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Waco ISD: Storm re-emphasizes need for upgraded facilities

Facilities Master Plan in the works
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 12:44 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:04 AM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The historic ice storm which took a toll on Central Texas has been revealing for the Waco Independent School District by putting the future of some facilities into perspective.

“We had about a quarter of our facilities that were impacted by the storm,” said Dr. Susan Kincannon, Superintendent of Schools for Waco ISD. “It was our older facilities that suffered the most damage.”

Kincannon praised the work of maintenance staff who took steps to lessen the blow, but with an estimated $500,000 of damage district-wide, WISD officials say the recent storm hit the district hard, especially the older schools including Waco High, G.W. Carver Intermediate, and Alta Vista Elementary.

“The damage certainly highlights the need to upgrade those facilities,” said Kincannon. “There were areas of those three campuses that couldn’t be used as a result of the damage, and so now we’re working to make repairs, we have older boiler systems at those campuses and just areas where we were most susceptible to getting damage as a result of a storm like that.”

Facilities were the main topic of discussion Tuesday night when district officials met virtually with their 60-plus member community advisory committee to discuss a 10-15 year strategic plan for the district’s campuses.

“It’s just really exciting to see everyone come together to talk about Waco ISD and the future,” said Kincannon.

The big focus was on what to do next with Waco High School.

Formerly Richfield High, Waco HS turns 60 this year.

“This is huge, from the moment I started working in Waco ISD I heard that Waco High School was a need and there was a desire to take care of that campus,” said Kincannon. “Last night was an opportunity for us to advance that work by talking specifically about Waco High School and the options to address it.”

The options included maintaining the current facilities on campus, renovating them, or building new ones altogether.

“About 97 percent of the committee, at the conclusion of last night’s meeting, chose an option that would build a replacement Waco High School on the Waco High School campus,” said Kincannon. “It’s really a huge big step for the district, the direction the committee gave us is really solid and we’ll use that information going forward as part of a bigger strategic plan for Waco ISD.”

There are four more facilities committee meetings remaining this year.

Next, they’ll be looking at middle school campuses, and then follow up on elementary school campuses and prioritize the work there.

At the end, the committee will provide final input for the board moving forward.

“Hopefully with a bond program to address our facility needs,” said Kincannon. “I’m really excited the community has engaged, is sticking with us, and providing valuable input into this process.”

Kincannon said, it’s up to the board, but they could likely have a bond package in November, or May 2022.

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