KISD bond steering committee meeting

Audience members listen as Killeen Independent School District Superintendent John Craft speaks during the first KISD bond steering committee meeting at Harker Heights High School on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017.

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.”

BOND PRESENTATIONS

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.

OPINIONS WANTED

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 mpayne@kdhnews.com and put KISD BOND in the subject field.

mpayne@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7553

Herald staff writer

(11) comments

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
To me, it can come down to a 'Divide and Conquer' scheme. 'Divide' the various components whereby you can 'conquer' your objective.
First let me start by saying that I was of the understanding that:
Copy: '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.' End of copy.
Wasn't that, the 'Americans with Disabilities Act', which was passed in 1990, and as I understand it, the KISD already has the funds allocated to cover this expenditure, so why is this again being asked for to be in compliance????
Copy: 'Killeen council, mayor candidates gather for Herald forum.'
Continuation of copy: 'The candidates were split over the role of managing and monitoring the city’s finances, with some — like Moore and Rivera — saying the council’s responsibility was not to “micromanage” the city’s funds.' End of copy.
It is not in the realm of 'micromanaging, but that of 'monitoring' the/a city's finances'. Look what happened this last time wherein this city did not take care of the city budget???? It is the opinion of this writer that it is a matter of 'monitoring the city budget in order to conform to the directives of the city services which includes monitoring of the city budget, but it can only be achieved with proper and corrective actions pertaining to the budget.
Copy: 'Almost all the candidates heaped praise on City Manager Ron Olson, a 37-year veteran of city administration, but argued for more council oversight of the city’s finances down to line-item appropriations.' End of copy.
As noted, this city manager, who has 37 years of experience in city administration, does in fact require that his office has a need for the city council to 'monitor' all aspects of his service to this city.
Copy: 'The candidates’ largest divide was on the council’s recent contested 4-3 votes at meetings and some heated debates among council members — sometimes breaching protocol.'
Continuation of copy: 'Segarra, who has overseen the council during its recent hot spell, said there is no issue with a 4-3 vote and that it represented a strong spirit of debate.' End of copy.
With this statement by the present mayor, 'I disagree', for there is considerable latitude whereby the citizens and the city council can and should object to a city council that can rule over this city and this city council by a minority vote of 4 to 3 in a 7 member city council and in those instances where the council has sway over the money that this city is allowed to spend should not be reflective of such a small portion of this city council. It should be by 'major vote, a 6 to 1 majority' or put up to the city by a vote of it's constituents, as addressed by this city manager.
@THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME:, @DIOGENES:, @TexaSolder:, @centexdave:, you 'tell it like it is, no flowery speech. @Killeen Patriot:, I tend to believe that you on the other hand try to 'pull the wool over the eyes of citizens' by not giving an accurate representation of just what is actually going on.
I've stated before that this KISD school district should operate within the monies that it is provided. Also, the withholding of crucial information, or misrepresentation or distortion of facts should also not be tolerated.
It is evident to this person that this has been the case in many instances, withholding of plans that are centered on the building of a new school that will provide for the subsequent building of a 3,750 home venture, the subsequent need/requirement for additional roadways and another bridge to establish a convenient avenue with which to gain access to this new school, and denial of additional studies in which this purported need for the new school can be averted. Nothing of this sort has came out of this KISD. In other words, answer questions instead of sitting back on your laurels and just requiring that the citizens of Killeen support your objectives.
I too am against this venture in all cases and conditions.
This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

Do you remember SCHLECHTY, and KISD;s JOURNEY? I do. It was a debacle. It was a SCAM, and KISD was a willing participant. KISD helped old SCHLECHTY sell his snake oil. The superintendent who led KISD down the SCHLECHTY path (who I will not name) had to slither off to Georgia. Now the current superintendent who had ONLY led a small school district for TWO years before KISD hired him now wants to get his hands on ONE HALF A BILLION US DOLLARS and demands that YOU sign the check for these GREEDY critters to build unneeded schools. I remember when KISD closed schools, do you? Now with declining birth rates KISD demands a fifth high school. Waco has 135,000 residents, and fewer high schools. If KISD gets ONE HALF A BILLION US DOLLARS, no new high school will be built, and the money you GIVE them will be frittered away. The voters won't be BAMBOOZLED by grifters, conmen, scammers, and shysters.

Diogenes

KISD does indeed waste tons of money. They spend thousands on catered meals for executive and principal meetings. They order food from Olive Garden and multiple other restaurants instead of eating the same food they feed the students. Do they think that they are better than their students?

TexaSoldier

@Killeen patriot
"clearly you do not have a high school student in the KISD school system."--
I had two daughters that were in the KISD that are grown and have families of their own now. Are you using the typical liberal retort that unless a person is in a certain demographic, then they should have no say in the that demographic discussion? If so, then that is weak sauce from some liberal haven. Not only is that intellectually vacant but even more so, people who pay for all this excess should ALWAYS have a say regardless of their own personal participation.
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"Our tax rate is below belton, cove, salado and it will still be below belton and cove."
As stated in another article that We hear this constant mantra: "we are not as bad (or in debt, or taxed) as much as...[fill in the blank]. That is neither visionary nor a display of leadership. Try that type of "leadership" at home and see how well it works. LOL Additionally, this bond issue is only the first of several. Are ALL these bond issues accumulatively built into my tax rate that you state? Of course not. They are going to piece meal this thing between KISD and the city government until people like me decide to leave the area and things will progressively get worse (that is what progressive really means).
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"So sad that we have so many petty ebinezer scrooges in this city." --
ok, I'll take the badge of honor being the scrooge (old blue dog democrat) that eventually saw the light. I can live with that.
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As a matter of principle, I will boldly state that EVERY bond is demonstration of a lack of leadership. They are given a very generous annual budget that they somehow cannot seem to live under. There is a LOT of waste in KISD. In a relatively low wage area, how many people in KISD earn six digit figures? I think you would be surprised just as I was when someone told me there were something like 30 or more people work for the city that make six digit figures. Holy cow
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Lastly, and this may be overly ideological, but bond issues are fundamentally un-American. A bond issue is direct democracy at work and no one can be held accountable. One of the issues the framers of our country FEARED the most was direct democracy. In a democracy, the majority (non-property owners, teachers unions, developers, etc in this case) can run roughshod over the minority (property owners for the most part) and have the minority pay for whatever the majority wants. For this reason, America is not a democracy but, rather, a constitutional republic. In a republic, representatives of the people (school board, city council, etc) can be held responsible for unsound or oppressive decisions. In a democracy, not so much… because the excuse will be that it was the majority that ultimately made the decision.

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

Hear hear, thank you, patriot.

Killeen patriot

clearly you do not have a high school student in the KISD school system. Classes of 40 - 50 students. Everyday is a safety hazard. Our tax rate is below belton, cove, salado and it will still be below belton and cove. What is a few more dollars to improve our school district? So sad that we have so many petty ebinezer scrooges in this city. I am disappointed they did not include a new stadium in the bond. It seems the attitude of many citizens is to treat our students like 3rd world citizens. Disgusting. I for one will vote YES. I would vote a hundred times if I could.

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

Sorry, there are no class sizes in any KISD school that exceed 35, and 35 is rare. I know because I have eyes on the inside, and boots on the ground of several KISD schools. Most class sizes average about 25-28, even 30 is rare. Add in the truancy rate, and at least 4-6 students aren't present in class, in some cases absences exceed 10 students per class at the four high schools. These days, high school can be completed online, keeping your preciuous child away from the predators, thugs, vermin, dope dealers, dope consumers, and drunken students. Yes, kids come to school HIGH on weed or alcohol daily, and drink alcohol and consume weed in the school buildings. KISD does very little to rid the schools of these vermin, choosing to cover it up. At one time, a kid could ask for time out, for punishment but to chill in the TLC room, where he or she could be praised, calmed, and offered LOVE. Here's a thought, take a couple for days, FULL days, and shadow your child to see it for yourself. You'll notice the scantily clad UTES, the sagging pants with visible ARSE crack UTES, the almost bare breasted lasses, no need to continue, visit a school and see it for yourselves.

TexaSoldier

@centexdave. exactly. These are liberal wolves in sheep’s clothing. They waste hard earned tax payer’s dollars left and LEFT. They hold on to high priced projects that they can pass off as emergency expenditures that the citizens MUST approve or we will have a breakdown of our civil society; absolutely disgusting, esp coming from "educators." If Jimmy Hoffa was a school superintendent and the teamsters were a teachers union, this is what we could get. ok, maybe a little hyperbolic... but you get the point.

TexaSoldier

ok, here we go with the weekly propaganda pieces to justify the fleecing of the property owners by the majority (non-property owners). KDH, where are the opposition articles? It looks like the liberal KDH only cares about being the government watchdog on certain knee-jerk issues. And, print media wonders why they are becoming less and less relevant.
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If this proposal was directed at a sales tax increase, my objections would be FAR less. In that way, virtually all of our citizens would be contributing to something that may or may not benefit the whole community. Why should property owners south of the Lampasas river that don’t have kids pay for the good idea fairy inside KISD? The extra terrestrial jurisdiction tax seizure by an arrogant, entitled KISD school board was disgusting. A $480 MILLION KISD budget (let that sink in for a few seconds) and they apparently cannot plan to renovate a school every two to three years? They would rather spend millions on a new fleet of Dodge Chargers for a stagnant police force; as if they will be chasing truant kids Dukes of Hazard style - absolutely ridiculous.
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I hope y’all realize that this is just the beginning – THEY WANT MORE after this… and SO DOES THE CITY of Killeen. Killeen wants its own bond package passed but KISD has sucked all the air out of the room this election cycle… but it’s not over and even when you think it’s over, it’s not over; the leviathan system HAS TO BE FED. And, that’s even before we start talking about the tens of millions, or hundreds of millions of capital improvement cost to support these improvements and maintenance comes after that. Guys, you had better start praying that the Amazon headquarters comes to western Bell county

centexdave

Business decision? Sure is - vote NO and keep your hard earned money.

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

Amen brother, amen.

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