Killeen ISD Superintendent John Craft was the guest speaker July 27 at the Harker Heights Rotary Club meeting.

The Killeen Independent School District encompasses Fort Hood, all of Harker Heights, Killeen and Nolanville.

The Killeen ISD remains as the 26th largest school district in the state of Texas with 32 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, four high schools, an early college high school, plus several specialized campuses in which there is exponential growth.

“We’re seeing more of a natural growth rate of about 1.5 percent per year. To put that in perspective, it means we’re adding about 400 to 500 new students each year,” Craft said.

This school year, the district is opening two new campuses.

Student population is predicted to be over 44,200 students in the 2017-18 school year.

Mobility rate for the Killeen ISD is at 30 percent. The state average mobility rate is 16 percent.

“We actually have one of the highest mobility rates in the nation,” Craft said.

“This brings up a question that we ask every day,” Craft said. “How do we put in place the support and intervention systems to combat the effects of mobility on students and their families?”

District officials are keeping a close eye on their affiliation with the military. Data provided by KISD indicates that 39 percent of students’ district-wide has a parent who is connected to Fort Hood in some way.

The number of staff members now stands at 6,440. Half of that number is teachers. The district maintains a pool of substitutes totaling 700 that brings the total number of staff to almost 7,000.

“Craft said,” We are the second local largest employer behind Fort Hood.”

“We are proposing an operating budget of $383 million for the coming school year. Seventy-nine cents of every dollar will go to the instruction of our students,” Craft said.

The downsizing of troop levels in the military has impacted the growth of the district, but statistics show that the current growth is continuing and is clearly from non-federally connected students. “This is why our expansion is to the south of Interstate 14,” Craft said.

In 2015, Killeen ISD opened its Early College High School that began at Central Texas College. The demand has increased so rapidly, the district had to move quickly to expand and have done so by consolidating the Smith Middle School building with the Audie Murphy Middle School facility.

Craft said, “The old Smith Middle School facility on Fort Hood now houses the ninth- and 10th-graders from the Early College High School. This coming year, we will be transporting the juniors in the Early College High School back to Central Texas College. We anticipate that 900 students will be enrolled. Three hundred of those will be at CTC. Students are already demonstrating tremendous success.”

Douse Elementary School, named in honor of the late KISD educator Alice Douse, will open this fall and will accommodate about 1,150 students. Roy J. Smith Middle School will also open this fall and will be the home campus for the middle school STEM program.

One of the Rotarians asked Craft if there were any plans to build another middle school off Warriors Path in the city of Harker Heights.

Craft responded, “The answer to that question is yes. Our strategic plan shows it coming on line in 2021-22. However, we are looking to expedite the new middle school to serve as an additional home for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program which is being housed at Roy J. Smith Middle School.”

When the application process was opened for enrollment in the middle school STEM program, district officials wanted to house about 400 students.

Over 1,200 students applied. There are currently 700 on a waiting list to get into the program.

“We did not anticipate that amount of interest,” Craft said.

Craft concluded his thoughts by praising the staff and students for their performance on academic testing during the past school year.

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