© 2024 Marfa Public Radio
A 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Lobby Hours: Monday - Friday 10 AM to Noon & 1 PM to 4 PM
For general inquiries: (432) 729-4578
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

“Save Ranchland Hills” group fails to convince Midland ISD to preserve a local golf course set to be the location of a new school

Midland ISD's decided to purchase Ranchland Hills Golf Club so it can raze the property to build a new high school. ( Mitch . / Marfa Public Radio)

Officials with Midland Independent School District say they’re not interested in changing their plans to close down a local golf course where a new campus will be built.

The district originally purchased the Ranchland Hills Golf Club in 2019 in order to build a new school at the location — a plan the district is now moving forward with following the approval of an approximately $1.4 billion school bond last fall. Now, Ranchland Hills is slated to be the home of Midland High School’s new campus, which is set to open in 2028.

However, over the last several months, a group of avid golfers have tried to convince district, city and county leaders to find an alternative to demolishing the golf course. During a school board meeting Wednesday night, members of the group “Save Ranchland Hills” asked district officials to consider alternatives.

“Just because y'all own it, and just because it's a tough decision, doesn't mean that y'all have to build the school there,” former Midland Mayor Mike Cannon told the school board on Wednesday. “You can leave the golf course there. You don't have to tear down Ranchland Hills.”

Members of the group have listed several reasons to preserve the semi-private golf course, ranging from protecting wildlife and plants to ensuring there are more affordable options to play golf in the Midland-Odessa area.

“Ranchland Hills is the prettiest green space in Midland, there are countless mature trees that grace its grounds. Large ponds exist throughout the property. There is an abundance of wildlife that exists nowhere else in Midland,” Rick Morton explained.

Leaders of the group claimed there are opportunities for the district to swap Ranchland Hills for another piece of property that they said would be a better location for Midland High. According to the district, one proposal that had been previously brought forward was trading Ranchland Hills for a swath of a city park, which is located nearby.

The Midland City Council had recently signaled that they would be open to discussing potential opportunities to preserve Ranchland Hills if school officials were interested.

However, many locals turned out Wednesday night to oppose “Save Ranchland Hills,” telling the school board that changing the location of Midland High’s future campus would betray the majority of voters who approved the 2023 bond.

Denise Norman, a local education advocate, said: “The $1.4 billion bond was approved with this location for Midland High as communicated to the public. I appreciate the opportunity for public comment and discussion, but 12,404 Midland voters have already spoken.”

The six school board members present at the meeting largely agreed with this sentiment.

School Board Trustee Brandon Hodges, who was a vocal opponent of the 2023 bond, said Midlanders had spoken and he wouldn’t “overthrow the majority of voters.”

Midland ISD Superintendent Stephanie Howard echoed that sentiment — saying that changing the district’s plans would erode good will earned by the district in the last year.

“The community would then be able to say we did not hold up to what we promised,” she said. “We were not open and honest with them. They could say that we cannot be trusted and that the terms of the bond have now been changed.”

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.