Faces lit up all around the cafeteria of East Ward Elementary School this week as plans for the school’s new campus were revealed during two separate public hearings.

For the students present, it was the sight of the new playground, with its brand new playscape and awnings to keep everything cool.

For the teachers present, it was the large cisterns that will not only help keep the school grounds maintained, but will provide a unique learning experience for the students.

For the parents, it was simply the idea of a safer place for their children to go to school.

The current East Ward campus, 1608 E. Rancier Ave., is over 60 years old, and is one of the oldest in the district. As such, it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, officials have said.

East Ward was one of the focuses of the May bond election, the district’s first bond proposal since 2002. Since that time, district enrollment has increased by over 13,700 students.

The school board voted unanimously in favor of calling for the $426 million bond, divided into two propositions.

Proposition A designates a total of $235 million for district-wide improvements and new schools. Proposition B budgets $191 million for school replacements and renovations.

Voters were also in favor, with over 57 percent voting to approve both propositions.

Of the $191 million facilities renovation proposition, $44 million was budgeted to replace the East Ward campus. To accomplish this, KISD plans to close the campus at the conclusion of the current school year. The building will then be demolished, and a new campus will be built on the same site.

During this construction phase, East Ward students will attend a different campus, and will return when construction is complete. They will be joined by current students of West Ward Elementary, 709 W. Dean Ave., which will close down.

“We are looking at this as a two-year, temporary change,” KISD Superintendent John Craft told parents at Tuesday’s hearing.

In the early stages of the bond project, the district planned to utilize the building at 701 Whitlow Drive that once housed Fairway Middle School as the transitional home of East Ward students in the upper grades. Younger students would attend West Ward during this time.

However, it was decided that this plan was not practical, as the renovation necessary to make Fairway accessible would make the project costly.

It was then proposed that students be enrolled in the new Elementary School No. 35, on which construction is set to conclude before the beginning of the 2019 school year.

This will allow all of East Ward’s approximately 460 current students to remain together.

“It’s important to us to keep everyone together: students, staff, siblings,” Craft said Tuesday. “We really feel that this is an optimal solution.”

Elementary School No. 35 is in the White Rock subdivision, located near the intersection of Rosewood Drive and Stagecoach Road in south Killeen.

Its distance caused some concerns among parents, which were discussed in last week’s hearings.

For Daneshia Johnson, East Ward is the only school her family has known since moving to Killeen a year and a half ago. Johnson’s daughters are in first and third grade, and she is worried about them having to adjust to a new place and new classmates.

“I’m excited, but pretty concerned,” Johnson said at Thursday’s meeting. “I’m glad they will be staying together, though.”

Parents also expressed concerned with the length of the bus ride that would be necessary to transport students the additional distance to school, as Elementary No. 35 is approximately 7.5 miles from the current East Ward campus.

Director of transportation services Edward Thomas on Tuesday assured parents that the ride would be around 25 minutes in the morning and closer to 30 in the afternoon.

This led to the question of whether or not the school start time would be adjusted to account for transportation time. East Ward currently starts its school day at 8:05 a.m. Craft said that the district would most likely try to adjust this time to 8:30 p.m.

“Our goal is to limit inconvenience as much as possible during this time,” Craft said Tuesday.

Although Johnson expressed concern about the transition, she is excited for the changes the new campus will bring to the area.

“The plans are beautiful,” she said Thursday. “It will be really good for the neighborhood, and maybe other changes will be made.”

Adam Rich, executive director for Facilities Services, revealed the plans for the new campus to a roomful of excited gasps at both meetings.

The three-story campus is designed to be easily and safely navigated. The youngest students will remain on the ground level, and each level has its own administration offices, science room and music room.

“We really wanted to minimize the time students are going up and down the stairs,” Rich said on Tuesday.

The front and rear facades are similar in construction, making the campus welcoming from both sides for parents and guests.

East Ward will not be the only school that will soon be getting a facelift as part of Proposition B. Several campuses, including Killeen High School, will be renovated or built to prepare for and accommodate the over 4,600 new students that KISD projects to enroll over the next 10 years.

School construction projects include:

Killeen High School (Proposition B): Renovations have begun and will happen in phases. Construction is set to be complete for the 2021 school year.

High school No. 6 (Proposition A): KISD’s sixth high school will be built on Chaparral Road. It is slated to open in the fall of 2022.

Elementary school No. 36 (Proposition A): Location is still to be determined for this campus, which is planned to open in 2022.

Clifton Park/Bellaire consolidations (Proposition B): Nolan Middle School is set to close and the campus be renovated to house these two schools. Set to open in 2021.

Middle school No. 14 (Not bond funded): Set to open in the fall of 2020 on Warriors Path.

Middle school No. 15 (Not bond funded): Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2020 and conclude for the 2023 school year.

Elementary school No. 37 (Not bond funded): Construction is set to begin in 2021 for this campus in Nolanville. Set to open in 2023.

As a separate part of Proposition A, a total of $19 million was designated for addressing safety and accessibility issues district-wide. This includes upgrades to campus intercom systems, the installation of controlled access devices, shade awnings for playgrounds and the construction of additional perimeter fencing.

These upgrades are already underway, and are expected to be completed by the fall of 2020.

This section of Proposition A also provides funds for upgrades to make facilities more accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This will include the construction of ramps, entrances, doors and restroom fixtures that will make navigating campuses more comfortable for students with special needs.

“We are just really grateful for our community for allowing us to pass this bond to improve the district for our students,” Craft said at Thursday’s East Ward parent meeting.

BLOX TITLE: Big changes are coming for some KISD schools

By Katelyn Robertson

Killeen Daily Herald

Faces lit up all around the cafeteria of East Ward Elementary School this week as plans for the school’s new campus were revealed during two separate public hearings.

For the students present, it was the sight of the new playground, with its brand new playscape and awnings to keep everything cool.

For the teachers present, it was the large cisterns that will not only help keep the school grounds maintained, but will provide a unique learning experience for the students.

For the parents, it was simply the idea of a safer place for their children to go to school.

The current East Ward campus, 1608 E. Rancier Ave., is over 60 years old, and is one of the oldest in the district. As such, it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, officials have said.

East Ward was one of the focuses of the May bond election, the district’s first bond proposal since 2002. Since that time, district enrollment has increased by over 13,700 students.

The school board voted unanimously in favor of calling for the $426 million bond, divided into two propositions.

Proposition A designates a total of $235 million for district-wide improvements and new schools. Proposition B budgets $191 million for school replacements and renovations.

Voters were also in favor, with over 57 percent voting to approve both propositions.

Of the $191 million facilities renovation proposition, $44 million was budgeted to replace the East Ward campus. To accomplish this, KISD plans to close the campus at the conclusion of the current school year. The building will then be demolished, and a new campus will be built on the same site.

During this construction phase, East Ward students will attend a different campus, and will return when construction is complete. They will be joined by current students of West Ward Elementary, 709 W. Dean Ave., which will close down.

“We are looking at this as a two-year, temporary change,” KISD Superintendent John Craft told parents at Tuesday’s hearing.

In the early stages of the bond project, the district planned to utilize the building at 701 Whitlow Drive that once housed Fairway Middle School as the transitional home of East Ward students in the upper grades. Younger students would attend West Ward during this time.

However, it was decided that this plan was not practical, as the renovation necessary to make Fairway accessible would make the project costly.  

It was then proposed that students be enrolled in the new Elementary School No. 35, on which construction is set to conclude before the beginning of the 2019 school year.

This will allow all of East Ward’s approximately 460 current students to remain together.

“It’s important to us to keep everyone together: students, staff, siblings,” Craft said Tuesday. “We really feel that this is an optimal solution.”

Elementary School No. 35 is in the White Rock subdivision, located near the intersection of Rosewood Drive and Stagecoach Road in south Killeen.

Its distance caused some concerns among parents, which were discussed in last week’s hearings.

For Daneshia Johnson, East Ward is the only school her family has known since moving to Killeen a year and a half ago. Johnson’s daughters are in first and third grade, and she is worried about them having to adjust to a new place and new classmates.

“I’m excited, but pretty concerned,” Johnson said at Thursday’s meeting. “I’m glad they will be staying together, though.”

Parents also expressed concerned with the length of the bus ride that would be necessary to transport students the additional distance to school, as Elementary No. 35 is approximately 7.5 miles from the current East Ward campus.

Director of transportation services Edward Thomas on Tuesday assured parents that the ride would be around 25 minutes in the morning and closer to 30 in the afternoon.

This led to the question of whether or not the school start time would be adjusted to account for transportation time. East Ward currently starts its school day at 8:05 a.m. Craft said that the district would most likely try to adjust this time to 8:30 p.m.

“Our goal is to limit inconvenience as much as possible during this time,” Craft said Tuesday.

Although Johnson expressed concern about the transition, she is excited for the changes the new campus will bring to the area.

“The plans are beautiful,” she said Thursday. “It will be really good for the neighborhood, and maybe other changes will be made.”

Adam Rich, executive director for Facilities Services, revealed the plans for the new campus to a roomful of excited gasps at both meetings.

The three-story campus is designed to be easily and safely navigated. The youngest students will remain on the ground level, and each level has its own administration offices, science room and music room.

“We really wanted to minimize the time students are going up and down the stairs,” Rich said on Tuesday.

The front and rear facades are similar in construction, making the campus welcoming from both sides for parents and guests.

East Ward will not be the only school that will soon be getting a facelift as part of Proposition B.  Several campuses, including Killeen High School, will be renovated or built to prepare for and accommodate the over 4,600 new students that KISD projects to enroll over the next 10 years.

School construction projects include:

Killeen High School (Proposition B): Renovations have begun and will happen in phases. Construction is set to be complete for the 2021 school year.

High school No. 6 (Proposition A): KISD’s sixth high school will be built on Chaparral Road. It is slated to open in the fall of 2022.

Elementary school No. 36 (Proposition A): Location is still to be determined for this campus, which is planned to open in 2022.

Clifton Park/Bellaire consolidations (Proposition B): Nolan Middle School is set to close and the campus be renovated to house these two schools. Set to open in 2021.

Middle school No. 14 (Not bond funded): Set to open in the fall of 2020 on Warriors Path.

Middle school No. 15 (Not bond funded): Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2020 and conclude for the 2023 school year.

Elementary school No. 37 (Not bond funded): Construction is set to begin in 2021 for this campus in Nolanville. Set to open in 2023.

As a separate part of Proposition A, a total of $19 million was designated for addressing safety and accessibility issues district-wide. This includes upgrades to campus intercom systems, the installation of controlled access devices, shade awnings for playgrounds and the construction of additional perimeter fencing.

These upgrades are already underway, and are expected to be completed by the fall of 2020.

This section of Proposition A also provides funds for upgrades to make facilities more accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This will include the construction of ramps, entrances, doors and restroom fixtures that will make navigating campuses more comfortable for students with special needs.

“We are just really grateful for our community for allowing us to pass this bond to improve the district for our students,” Craft said at Thursday’s East Ward parent meeting.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

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