KELLER (CBSDFW.COM) – Students in the Keller Independent School District are saying goodbye to summer and hello to a new school year on Tuesday, with a new superintendent at the helm. Rick Westfall has taken over as the district’s leader, and he hopes to have parental input on the vision for the future.
Westfall is not a new face in the district. He was formerly the principal of Keller High School, from 2008 to 2011. He said that the district is in a unique place right now, as there is expected to be less rapid growth and expansion. The focus going forward will be on stabilizing the existing schools.
“There might be a building that has to be opened up down the road, but growth is slowing down a bit, which makes it a really cool time to come,” Westfall said, “because there is a change in what we are going to be about. We aren’t going to be about fast growth anymore. So, what are we going to be? What is our identity going to be?”
There actually is a new campus opening up this year, however. Vista Ridge Middle School is one of the last large construction projects for the Keller ISD. It will be home to 250 students in fifth and sixth grades, with two additional grade levels joining in the next two years. The project took 13 months to finish and the final touches were put into place over the weekend.
“This school is going to focus on innovation,” said Vista Ridge Middle School principal Chelsea Allison. “It’s going to focus on students being risk takers and student-led learnings. It will focus on students working at that higher level that will help them in their grade school years, but whenever they get to college.”
There are nearly 35,000 students in the Keller ISD in portions of Keller, Fort Worth, Haltom City, Hurst, Watauga, Southlake, North Richland Hills, Colleyville and Westlake. The district employs more than 3,800 staff members including around 2,700 instructional employees.
But the best part, Westfall explained, is “watching the kids come back. They act like they don’t want to come back and then, all the sudden, they see what is going on, and the school, and they get pretty excited about it. So, that’s the best part, is watching them.”