Killeen Independent School District voters will have a menu of proposed bond items before them in May, totaling $426 million in work. But some voters see certain ballot items as more appealing than others, wishing they could place an a-la-carte order with their taxpayer money.
One talking point among voters in the three out of six bond education meetings held by KISD officials: $426 million for a district makeover, split between Proposition A and Proposition B.
Proposition A proposes renovations to existing schools for ADA compliance, security upgrades and construction of new schools. Proposition B would allow consolidation of some schools, and renovation of Killeen High School and other schools.
This way, voters can prioritize what changes they want to see — to an extent.
The top priority is improving security at existing KISD schools, a bond steering committee determined Nov. 16, along with disability access renovations to bring schools into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. These renovations comprise $19 million of the proposed bond.
In order to support these changes, however, voters must also vote for a new high school and elementary school. Out of the proposed $426 million in tax levies, the new schools total $216 million, more than half of the proposed bond.
Hal Schiffman, one of three chairmen selected to coordinate the bond steering committee, called the inclusion of new schools in the bond a business decision.
Numerous possibilities of what to include in the bond were fielded at the meetings, according to Schiffman. The committee ultimately decided to include the new schools since delaying their construction would probably result in higher costs.
“To delay projects exposes the district to quantifiably greater costs to produce the same project,” Schiffman said, adding that was outlined in bond steering committee meetings.
The district said there exists a strong desire for all the items included in the bond, despite some voters expressing shock at voter education meetings.
A “random, stratified” sample of KISD voters to be representative of the entire district electorate were surveyed within an error margin of 4.5 percent, according to chief communication officer Terry Abbott.
The mid-November survey showed that voters favored a $500 million bond package by a margin of 57 percent to 38 percent, Abbott said, a margin of 19 points in favor of such a bond program.
Superintendent John Craft underscored the bond steering committee’s desire for new schools.
“The needs of the district were analyzed thoroughly through the bond steering committee meetings,” said Craft, who also indicated the bond does not include all of the needs of KISD. “One of the projects included calls for a $171 million high school.”
The proposed high school has been a part of the Strategic Facilities Plan discussion for more than a decade, according to Craft, who like Schiffman, points to rising construction costs when asked about its inclusion on the May 5 ballot.
“Significant annual construction escalation costs continue to play a significant role in the bond proposal amounts, and is expected to drive projected costs upwards in the foreseeable future,” Craft said.
As for why the bond is formatted into Propositions A and B, proposing two packages, KISD board trustee JoAnn Purser said it makes sense to bundle security upgrades and new schools, since the board determined the two propositions go hand in hand.
The board first considered splitting the bond into two propositions at a Jan. 20 workshop that lasted for several hours. The news release announcing the consideration of splitting the bond was sent by Abbott late that night.
According to Abbott’s report, Craft suggested the board of trustees could consider asking voters to approve on May 5 one bond proposition for $235 million to pay for the proposed new high school and elementary school, bundled with the safety, security and accessibility upgrades at existing campuses.
The second bond proposition ultimately turned out to be $191 million to build new elementary schools and renovate others to improve KISD campuses more than 50 years old.
“We want the voters to understand capacity of high schools are at critical level,” Purser said.
KISD will undergo sweeping construction in the coming years even if just Proposition A passes, and while construction is going on, to renovate at the same time allows for district-wide uniformity, according to Purser.
“It was a very neat package and consolidation, if we were going to split. With these several projects, they are useful in addressing inequities between schools and making them more equal,” Purser said. “We had to split it somewhere. It just made sense to do it this way.”
The fourth voter education meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday in the cafeteria at Nolan Middle School on East Jasper Drive.
Meeting No. 5 will be at 5 p.m. April 5 at Early College High School on Tank Destroyer Boulevard.
The last meeting will be at 6 p.m. April 9 in the cafeteria at Skipcha Elementary on Prospector Trail in Harker Heights.
Are you a registered KISD voter with an opinion about the upcoming bond election? Contact reporter Matt Payne by phone at 254-501-7553, or email him at email@example.com and put KISD BOND in the subject field.