Most people have heard the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Weatherford’s Shirley Hall Middle School might very well epitomize the sentiment behind that statement.
From the outside, the 48-year-old building looks much like it did when it was first built in 1967. But, upon closer inspection, the story inside is much different. Exposed wires and ventilation units, uneven and chipped floors, cramped classrooms, unusable lockers, poor drainage and a laundry list of other problems plague the school, all of which can lead to unsafe conditions to the upwards of 600 students who attend school there.
On May 9, voters will decide on a proposition that could replace the existing school - at the same site - and also provide for a grade realignment at Weatherford ISD. Currently, WISD elementary school serve grades kindergarten through sixth grades and middle schools serves grade seven and eight. WISD is proposing to realign elementary schools to serve kindergarten through fifth grades and middle schools to serve sixth through eighth grades.
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The $49.5 million price tag on what’s known as proposition two includes $41.1 million to tear down and replace the existing facility with a new school at the current location to serve grades six through eight. The additional $8.4 million would be used to construct a sixth-grade classroom addition to Tison Middle School, as well as upgrade the track and field.
Throughout the past few weeks, Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Hanks and others from WISD have been giving presentations and answering questions the public may have about the upcoming bond, which also includes two other propositions - one for $18.8 million that allows for upgrades and improvements to comply with current codes and standards and extend the life of all the facilities at WISD and another for $6.6 million that would pay for construction of controlled entrances at all campuses that would require visitors to report to the campus office and present identification before being granted access to the main part of the school.
On April 14, a presentation was held at Hall Middle School and prior to the talk, attendees were given a tour of the school so they could see for themselves the state of the facility and what the students and faculty are faced with on a daily basis. Some were surprised that it looked the “same as when I went here 30 years ago.” Others asked how it was possible for students to make it from some of the classrooms to the other in time for class since they were so spread out.
“They find a way to do it within the four-minutes allotted,” Principal Debbie Braudaway explained.
When told that the band room had flooded two times in the past year and that wooden planks had to be put down when it rains long and hard enough to flood in order for students to walk to outside portables, some parents shook their heads in amazement.
Because the tour and presentation were for information purposes only, administrators and staff did not address how they felt about the current conditions or what their desire for an outcome in May would be, however, an independent survey conducted by Baselice & Associates about six months ago showed by a large margin that they were in favor of revamping the campus.
Proposition one is for existing facility improvements ($18.8 million) and allows for upgrades and improvements to comply with current codes and standards, increase safety and security, make schools more energy efficient and extend the life of each WISD facility. Proposition three addresses safety and security at all campuses ($6.6 million) and includes the construction of controlled entrances to improve security at all existing campuses.
Early voting begins Monday and Election Day is May 9. If passed, the estimated tax impact of the total bond proposal is anticipated to be about $7.79 per month based on a $100,000 home value.
Tour Hall Middle School
Another public tour and presentation about the bond will be held at Hall Middle School on Monday beginning at 6 p.m.
Hall Middle School is located at 902 S. Charles St. in Weatherford.
No pre-registration is required to attend the tour.