Wade Stanford

School Superintendent Wade Stanford  

Westwood Independent School District is organizing a long-range steering committee, drawn from the entire district, to plan how to meet schools' instructional and building needs for years to come.

Ultimately, the committee's work on an instructional and facilities master plan will likely inform and shape the district's next bond and building plan. On Wednesday, however, WISD Superintendent Wade Stanford stressed this committee will not talk about a bond. It first will tackle the district's future instructional needs, and then determine whether its current buildings and facilities can meet those needs, or whether they will affect them at all.

The instructional and facilities master plan will build on the district's 2017-2020 strategic plan, including recommendations for teaching and learning, technology, buildings, and equipment.

Any resident of the Westwood Independent School District is eligible to participate in the steering committee, including students. Prospective members must attend the committee's first meeting in the high school cafeteria on March 24 at 6 p.m.

The size of the committee won't be capped and could exceed 100 members.

Owing to the amount of information given on March 24, Stanford said, residents who don't attend that meeting will not be eligible to serve on the committee.

Committee meetings will run on Facebook live.

The district will run informational meetings about the steering committee, including its role and responsibilities, at 6 p.m. on March 10 and March 12 in the high school cafeteria. Information about the committee will appear on social media as soon as Thursday. WISD's website will provide a link by Monday to sign up for the committee.

Committee members, meeting possibly every three weeks, should wrap up their work in July. Members of the Westwood School Board will have to approve the long-range plan.

In part, the community-wide steering committee is a response to criticisms of the last bond plan that it was not inclusive enough. Stanford acknowledged Wednesday the district learned some lessons from the unsuccessful 2019 campaigns.

In May, a $39-million bond to rebuild and redesign WISD's aging buildings lost by five votes – 410 to 415.

In November, the school board went back to the voters with an almost identical plan. It lost by a wider margin, 877-774.

Members of the Westwood school board are seeking wider participation in shaping the district's future, including from opponents of last year's bonds, such as the Westwood ISD Watchdog group. The group said it had roughly 350 members.

The Westwood district also is asking voters for feedback about last November's bond election. The survey went up on the district's website Monday; it will remain up through Feb. 21. Visit the website at https://www.westwoodisd.net.

For those without computers, the district is providing access at the administration building, 4524 W. Oak.

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