KISD bond approved

John Craft, KISD Superintendent reacts to the final but unofficial count for two bonds worth $426 million which passed at the KISD Admin. offices in Killeen, on Saturday, May 05, 2018.

Voters approved $426 million in taxpayers money to build and renovate new schools in the Killeen Independent School District.

The unofficial vote totals Saturday was 3,705 yes and 2,637 no for Proposition A and 3,649 yes and 2,672 no for Proposition B.

Proposition A of the bond, for $235 million, will pay for construction of a new high school and elementary school and renovations to existing schools for ADA compliance and security upgrades.

Proposition B, for $191 million, will pay for consolidation of some schools, and renovation of Killeen High School and other schools.

Proposition B appeared under the header, “addressing existing district facilities through renovations and new school replacements.” While KISD says this money will not be used for projects previously not spoken of, nothing in the ballot language commits the district to what KISD has proposed.

Superintendent John Craft said Saturday night he couldn’t be more elated.

“We just impacted thousands and thousands of students this evening,” Craft said. “This is really going to be a tremendous impact to our students.”

KISD will begin to map out the projects with the approval of the bond. The safety and security upgrades included in the bond program will begin over the summer, Craft said. The design of the sixth high school and work on the consolidation of some schools will begin “immediately.”

KISD board

The Killeen Independent School District will see familiar faces on its board of trustees over the next year.

Incumbent Minerva Trujillo defeated challenger Lan Carter for the Place 6 spot on the board. Board member JoAnn Purser was unopposed in her bid for another term on Place 7.

The unofficial vote, with all precincts in, was 3,926 for Trujillo and 2,290 for Carter.

Trujillo was originally elected to fill the seat vacated by her late husband, Arthur Trujillo.

Previously, she spent 35 years working for KISD as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in a number of schools.

Trujillo, who has never served as a school board trustee after voter approval of a bond program, said she looks forward to putting children first.

When asked how she as a board trustee would ensure funds to be levied by the bond program are properly spent, she expressed faith in her fellow trustees.

“We may disagree on the little things, but not when it comes to the children,” Trujillo said. “Those of us that may not have felt as strongly for the bond, they’ll be in there fighting for the kids. That’s what it’s all about.”

A resident owner with a home valued at $143,000 will see an increase of $171 per year in KISD taxes with the bonds, according to the KISD website.

Moving forward on bond

Craft said information on hiring architectural services will be presented to the school board by the end of May.

Craft and other officials held six community meetings, toured all KISD schools and visited community groups to discuss the bonds.

Craft has said in past meetings that with the passing of the bond, 74 of the 232 portable buildings currently used by the district will be decommissioned.

Response to the approval of the $426 million bond program was mixed.

Bill Kliewer, who served on a bond steering committee and helped prioritize what would be proposed in the initiatives, called the approval of the bond a critical step to the future of KISD and the Killeen-Fort Hood area altogether.

“This is transformative for the future. It’s vital that this passed,” Kliewer said. “This is going to be a great economic driver for a long time, thanks to passing this bond issue.”

Michael Cotten, an adjunct professor of history at Central Texas College, was disappointed by what he calls a low voter turnout in an election that impacts the household budgets of so many.

“The vast majority have remained silent,” he said.

Cotten said from the beginning, he asked the voters to consider two points:

“Do you believe that KISD has been good stewards of the monies that have already been allocated through the regular budgets, and do you believe that these bonds are as prudent as KISD could make them?” Cotten asked.

“By the results, it seems the majority of voters said yes. Let’s hope the district measures up to their expectations.”

In addition to the new facilities that will be built thanks to the bond program, the district still owns three schools that are now closed.

Duncan Elementary, built in 1981, is on Fort Hood. That facility was closed at the end of the 2016-2017 school year “due to declining enrollment which, in turn, causes inefficiencies in many areas,” according to Terry Abbott, KISD chief communications officer, citing minutes of a KISD board of trustees meeting.

The old Fowler Elementary School was closed at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

The Feb. 11, 2014, KISD board minutes say Fowler was “the district’s most expensive campus on a general revenue, per student, basis. By closing that campus and redistributing the students to Clifton Park, East Ward and West Ward, the receiving campuses would become more efficient.”

The Fowler building was later leased for $1 per year to Texas A&M University-Central Texas which, in turn, leased the building to Oak Creek Academy.

The Fairway Middle School building most recently provided housing for evacuees of Hurricane Harvey.

The school closed at the end of the 2008-2009 school year, due to declining enrollment, as noted in the KISD board minutes from Jan. 13, 2009.

The KISD board voted to place the Fairway property up for sale at its Sept. 12, 2017, meeting, but bids submitted in early November were later rejected by the board.

Fairway will be used as a “swing school” during the consolidation process for East Ward and West Ward elementary schools, according to Craft.

254-501-7568 | jferraro@kdhnews.com

Herald staff writer

(12) comments

MAJAG89

So the “voters” of KISD have spoken and given Dr. Craft and the KISD board a blank check for $426M. And make no mistake about it, it is a blank check. Nothing in the bond requires the school board to adhere to the details of the bond proposal.
No sense crying over spilled milk. What is done is done. Just a couple of observations.
Statistically speaking it was very interesting to see the early vote come in at a 58%-42% split and for every precinct update to keep that very same split all night. Not one precinct deviated from that split. That’s pretty impressive. Especially considering that opposition to the bond at all six public meeting was decidedly larger than “pro-bond” crowd.
By the way, KISD should immediately fire its polling company, Baselice & Associates Inc. Baselice told KISD that a $400M bond would fail 42-51 with 7% undecided. Hence the reason there were two bond packages. In actuality the bonds passed 58-42, well outside the parameters of the company's plus/minus 4.9 variance. Guess you can't trust a pollster.
Here are some predictions you can take to bank.
1) KISD will continue to have portables for years to come and any reported reduction will not happen until 2022 if it happens at all. Continued growth will be the reason given even though it will be because we built new elementary schools in North Killeen with less total student capacity instead of where they are needed in South Killeen.
2) Because KISD diverted routine maintenance items (security upgrades and ADA repairs) in the bond, within two year KISD will announce they have found “saving” in the strategic facility fund and will build the $50M football stadium that Baselice told them the voters would overwhelmingly reject. KISD will brag about it not costing the “taxpayer a dime.”
3) By 2022, KISD will be asking the voters to pass another $200M bond to pay for the replacements of Peebles Elementary, Harker Heights Elementary and construction of two new elementary schools designated #37 and 38.
Don’t believe me. Look it up. It’s all spelled out in bond steering committee presentation 4 at www.killeenisdbsc.org/meetings.html.
One final thought: Dr Craft and KISD absolutely broke the law by campaigning for the bond. it's a shame no one has standing to file a complaint with the Texas Election Commission.

TexaSoldier

exactly. And, before 2022, the city of Killeen will need to pass a bond to pay for the water plant that cost $32 mil so far and the MUD, which will cost the city tens of millions in capital expenditures that they may never get back. And, that's even before they start talking about building a new city hall (so they can get out of a condemned old school house). Then, as you stated, there will be another bond around 2022.
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Every bond issue is a sign of poor leadership. KISD has a half billion dollar budget. They somehow find money to buy a new fleet of race cars for a static police force but can not figure out how to set aside money for renovating older schools. They do this to make the appeal that this is an emergency measure "for the children". It's a scam pure and simple
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As long as the county (valuations continue to rise), the cities and school district can say, we are not charging as much as so and so, then they will think they are justified. As long as the scams work, the fleecing will continue.

Killeen patriot

So Killeen ranked 1367 out of 1555 school districts in Texas for tax rate. The new tax rate we will join the schools at 875 - 886. So we will be close to median for tax rate in the state. As a parent, I for one am willing to pay my extra $200/year for better schools and less crowding. I wish they asked for more money to pay the teachers higher salaries also.

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

Some people will be howling when the bill arrives. I'll be laughing, because my tattered old EXTRA shack was just put up on the market. I'll take me money and run, boys and girls. Only stayed there for a couple days a year, and allowed relatives to use it. I'll be spending more time on my ranch with my cattle and horses, who are much better company anyway. Enjoy your coming onslaught, as money fails to do that which the grifters claimed they'd do with it. That $200,000,000 high school is gonna be another big surprise. KILLzone is gonna get a new road for their crackerjack home fiasco. Suckers....

dailymajor

and the sky is falling...run, run....

TexaSoldier

@dailymajor. well, outside KISD's grasp for starters. I'm looking for land and checking annual property tax. KISD's property tax is outrageous already - and this was BEFORE this thievery for MORE property taxes. Finding land with less school taxes is not hard.
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I've gone to a lot of the local political debates/forums over the years. If I hear another politician or school board member say "we are not as bad as...", I will have another heart attack. That statement alone tells you they don't care if forced confiscation is honest, fair or just - they just don't care. Secondly, when I expressed concerns about property taxes, another school board candidate said, "don't you think EVERYONE should care about educational needs?" I said, "YES! finally... YES! Let's do that! Let's stop the property tax theft and move to a sales tax so that EVERYONE can help with educational needs!" My response retort was followed by a vacant stare because the obvious is... well... obvious.
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Lastly, what I say, I don't say lightly. Both sets of my grandparents - all four families - settled here or were here in this area before Killeen was even a town. That is not to say anything other than even people with a history should leave if they had any common sense.

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

Wise thoughts, my friend. Just for clarification, KIDS is already in on the sales tax confiscation scheme at a lower rate than KILLzone but they get sales tax graft, too. They don't want to raise the ire and anger of KILLzone, HH, and NoVille by asking for more.

KIDS gets an effective tax rate of 1.0489% already. Wherever there is a scam, KIDS is already all over it, mate.

dailymajor

I guess we will just have to try the best we can without you. Will you still be writing into the paper with your negative views of the city and school district?

dailymajor

"KISD's property tax is outrageous already"....This shows a lot about what you don't know. Which large school district has had a lower tax rate than KISD? Tell me a couple, I would love to know. .......I'm sure you can find land with less school taxes ...in ... ....Egypt, or land close to there. ..Best of luck to you with your move.

TexaSoldier

As this scam continues, they will need hordes useful idiots proclaiming their grandeur. Guess what? The city of Killeen will now seek their own large bond package foist upon property owners. But, continue on believing there is not a better place to live. wow. This liberal cash addiction does NOT STOP. It never stops. If you believe this is so necessary, then push for a sales tax - you wont because there will be HUGE resistance. Why, if it is such a great idea? It's always a great idea when someone else is forced to pay for it. Useful idiots

TexaSoldier

It's time to move away. KISD has a half a billion dollar budget and wastes money on nonsense then claim another half billion is needed "for the kids". absolute nonsense.

I am a home owner and voted regularly in this district for 20 years. strangely, the voting booths are moved around from the fire station (not enough parking but they do it anyway for some stupid reason), or the Community Center (where it SHOULD be every time), and even a Baptist church which isn't even in the precinct. This is the first time I can remember the voting booths INSIDE the KISD administration building. hhhmmm It couldn't be because of the KISD bond the ballot - could it? absolutely DISHONEST. This is Baltimore or Chicago dishonest crap that is now brought to Killeen. What's next? Black panthers with weapons guarding voting booths like in Chicago.
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If this was just a one-off situation, then I wouldn't care so much but it isn't. CTC tax was suppose to be temporary. That was shoved down our throats and now it is permanent. The WCID was a privately controlled cabal for 30 years until this election. Even when the vote doesn't go their way, it has been shown that local government will do whatever they want anyway such as when the Criminal Justice center was built after the voters turned it down. The Municipal Utility District was forced upon taxpayers and most on the city council don't care. The property owners are forced to pay for a water plant for a particular developer's project but, not to fulfill a general good for south/west Bell county or Killeen's ETJ. I could go on and on and on.
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When the union members (NEA in this case) alone can vote and pass a proposition to force others to finance their taj mahals and the benefactors outnumber those that actually pay for it, IT's TIME TO MOVE! If this continues, Killeen will turn into the new Baltimore... congrats

dailymajor

Tex, where are you moving? Which city has a better school district with lower taxes, a lower cost of living, better weather, and a better location, with the combination of city and country living? Just wondering...

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