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Eleven WFISD Students Earn National Merit Semifinalist, Commended, Hispanic Commended Titles

Eleven WFISD Students Earn National Merit Semifinalist, Commended, Hispanic Commended Titles

WFISD also earns Superior rating in annual FIRST report



 Nov. 14, 2016

 McKenzie Garcia, in plaid shirt, accepts board accolades for becoming a National Hispanic Scholar in the College Board contest.



WFISD proudly honored 11 seniors at its board meeting Nov. 14, acknowledging their superior academic achievements that earned them the coveted titles of National Merit Semifinalist, Commended and National Hispanic Scholar.


Out of a sea of 1.6 million test-takers in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program, two WFISD students ranked among the nation’s 16,000 top-scoring semifinalists by scoring in the top half-percent.


These students earned the top honor in the 62nd annual program. They are Wichita Falls High School senior Clara Baker and Rider High School senior Madison Carlston.


Ms. Baker’s and Ms. Carlston’s accomplishment is considered one of the most prestigious academic honors for any high school student. Their scores are drawn from the PSAT test they took in October 2015 when they were juniors.


In the same competition, four WFISD students earned the National Hispanic Scholar title for scoring in the top 2 percent of the 1.6 million students who tested. WFISD honored Wichita Falls High School senior McKenzie Garcia and three Rider High School seniors: Syler Dotson, Hannah Klinger, and Zarai Sanchez.


Five Rider High School students earned the Commended Student title, scoring in the top 5 percent among the 1.6 million test-takers in the nation. They joined a tier of 34,000 high-achieving students. They are seniors Syler Dotson, Greyson Fitzwater, Pranav Kamath, James Scales and Par Wilkinson.



FIRST report


Board members got a look at a special financial report, called FIRST, on WFISD’s financial status from the 2014-2015 school year. FIRST stands for Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas.


The FIRST report showcased WFISD’s “Superior” ranking. The district scored 90 out of a possible 100 points on 15 financial indicators. The details were presented in a public hearing at 5:30 p.m., prior to the board meeting.




 nov. 14, 2016

Joshua Miller, project manager with Arcadium Solutions, updates board members on the progress of the Career Education Center on Nov. 14, 2016



This is the 14th consecutive year that WFISD has prepared and presented its FIRST financial management report. WFISD consistently earns the top ranking, as it did this year.


The state instigated this report in 2001 through Senate Bill 218. It is the state’s way of evaluating and tracking a school district’s financial solvency.


“We are pleased with our rating and will strive to continue to improve the financial operations of the District,” wrote Superintendent Mike Kuhrt in its introductory letter.


The district could receive one of two financial accountability ratings: Passed or Substandard Achievement. WFISD earned a Passed ranking.


The report tracks the submission of data to the Texas Education Agency, the amount of district debt, the amount of cash on hand, the percentage of budget spent on administration, among other details.


Career Education Center Construction Update

After showing a time-lapse video of the CEC construction, Project Manager Joshua Miller said, “The good news, as you can see, progress is moving. The bad news, as you can see, it’s rained a lot.”


Construction is 30 days off schedule, with an initial finish date of June 29, 2017, now pushed back to the middle of July 2017, he said.


“I feel confident we can make up 10 of those (days),” said Mr. Miller. His company is looking for ways to do projects concurrently to make up time.


The project’s current GNP budget of $30,474,920 remains unchanged. Some of the project’s contingency fund was used during the past month for water pumping to dry the site out, he said. “We lost a couple of days, but it could have been worse,” he said.


The contingency fund balance sits at $35,619.


The building is 34 percent completed and is still on budget.


One of the building’s highlights, the “learning stair,” will be installed this week. The wooden risers are a prominent feature inside the building entrance and will provide a place for students to congregate informally.


Other progress: Transformers have been ordered and are en route; a paint booth has been procured and is en route from overseas. Exterior brickwork has begun. The building’s dry-in date -- the date when the building’s exterior is closed in -- has been pushed back one week into the first week of December instead of the week of Thanksgiving.


Board members will get their first tour of the building Dec. 12 at 3:30 p.m.


“What are the other long poles of the tent to be concerned about?” asked board member Bob Payton.


Mr. Miller said receiving all the vehicle lifts and elevators on time will be important. “We don’t want to have the building ready and have no equipment to run the program,” he said.


Mr. Payton said he had viewed the CEC during a recent visit to the Clinics of North Texas, which sits nearby. “Our video doesn’t do it justice,” he said. It was much larger than he expected, he said.


The Clinic’s parking lot is the best place to view the CEC’s construction, agreed Mr. Miller.


District of Innovation

The committee that is studying the possibilities associated with taking on the District of Innovation designation from the state met for the first time Nov. 10, reported Mr. Kuhrt. The committee’s minutes were posted to the WFISD website so they will be available to the community, he said.


The next meeting is Nov. 15 at 4 p.m. at Barwise Middle School; a third meeting will be held Nov. 21.


Research and discussions continue, but no decisions have been made, he said.


Thank you to Rev. Reginald Blow

The Nov. 14 board meeting marked the final official meeting for board member Rev. Reginald Blow. He recalled that he first began attending school board meetings when he was in eighth grade and rode his bicycle to the meetings. Once he joined the board, he became one of its longest serving board members. He completed 17 years of service.


Two unanimous votes

In two 6-0 votes, WFISD board members unanimously passed the Consent agenda and hired one new teacher who will go to Burgess Elementary School.