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Board Members Introduced to 'Future Thinking' Not Just 'Forward Thinking'

Board Members Introduced to ‘Future Thinking,’ Not Just ‘Forward Thinking’

Superintendent challenges board members to plan buildings that will still be in use in 2120

 

Many WFISD school buildings were built in the 1920s and are still in use today.

So it would not be inappropriate to assume that schools planned and built by today’s board members would live on through 2120, said WFISD Superintendent Mike Kuhrt.

So what’s the best way to design a building that must last – and work hard – for 100 years or more?

The discussion was part of October’s regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday, Oct. 21.

In a special report, Mr. Kuhrt introduced board members to photos of re-imagined schools with large open spaces, glass classroom walls that open into carpeted study spaces, and grand swathes of flexible spaces that can be divided up again and again, depending on a teacher’s need.

The futuristic design included open areas similar to WFISD’s Career Education Center, with its Learning Stair – but larger – to special teacher work rooms where teachers do their office work instead of in classrooms, then move on to the classrooms to teach. 

The new designs are robust with versatility and carry price tags that vary with the materials chosen for them, said Mr. Kuhrt.  Solid walls made with sheetrock vary in cost from glass walls; an open-ceiling concept has a different price tag than a typical ceiling.

That will all be part of the decision-making when it comes time to price out a high school – or two—for Wichita Falls, he said.

“Are we future thinking, not just forward thinking?” he asked.

Board members will need to consider the basic costs of floors, roofs and technology, and then study the costs of advancing up the line to the top-tier versions. 

They may decide they want just the basics in flooring but top-grade in roofs, for example, he said. 

Board members will also need to decide how schools may be used in the future and how they should be built to adapt to future teaching trends, he said.

For example, Rider High School and Wichita Falls High School already live-stream some of their classes so students on another campus can participate remotely. Such a teaching option requires a quiet place for a student to sit, probably wearing headphones. Will this type of remote instruction ramp up in years to come? Will schools need specific spaces for such learning?

“It’s not just about ‘How much does it cost?’” said Mr. Kuhrt. “It’s about different learning areas.”

He told board members he has asked his advisers to “find me schools” that are revolutionary in the way they deliver education and have created spaces to reflect that. 

“They’ve got to look and feel different than what we currently have,” he said. He plans to visit such schools to incorporate their ideas into WFISD’s new buildings.

The type of school he is imagining might have the open spaces already incorporated into the Career Education Center. “But we’re talking about a school three to four times bigger than the CEC, with lots of components,” he said.

The plans for building revolutionary schools could also direct the District’s plans for renovations, too, he said.

The District may divide up its renovations by renovating to last for 20 years, then in 20 years renovating again to last much longer, “because we’ll know more then than we know today,” he said.

Or, the District may opt for a smaller renovation today leading to a big renovation in 20 years, which may be more cost effective than trying to do the whole thing now, he said.

 

Recognitions

The Wichita Falls High School Girls Soccer Team, and the team’s Coach Rob Woodard, were honored at Monday’s meeting for receiving the United Soccer Coaches Award for maintaining a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25. Last year, the team’s average was 3.71. 

This was the second highest GPA in the state, falling behind only the Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth, Texas. This is the 14th consecutive year that the WFHS Girls Soccer Team has received this award.



Public Comment

Polly Lucus and Joyce McCurdy presented a TCTA Special Edition magazine to board members. They said they hoped the magazine would assist board members to “bridge the gap between expectations and reality in today’s classroom.”

In another address before the board, Valerie Rhodes urged board members to seek “equitable education.” 

 

Consent Agenda

In a 7-0 vote, board members approved the Consent Agenda, which included:

  • Financial reports as of Aug. 31, 2019
  • RFP #20-16: 1 Student Passenger Bus, 1 activity bus and 3 special needs buses
  • Chromebooks, software and services
  • Targeted Improvement Plans and Turnaround Implementation Plan
  • Instructional Materials Adoption Committees for English Language Arts, grades 9-12
  • Resolution regarding extracurricular status of 4-H organizations
  • Minutes
  • Appointment of Two Representatives to the Wichita Appraisal District Board of Directors

 

Applicant Pool

Board members approved the applicant pool, presented by Human Resources Director Cyndy Kohl,  in a 7-0 vote.