Killeen Independent School District voters will consider two spending measures totalling $426 million on the May 5 ballot. Proposition A calls for spending $235 million and specifies a new high school is included. Proposition B is more vaguely worded and calls for spending $191 million on consolidation of some schools, and renovation of Killeen High School and other schools.
If Proposition A fails, could Proposition B be used to build a new high school?
At least one board member has expressed that concern.
Proposition B will appear under the header, “addressing existing district facilities through renovations and new school replacements.”
Here’s how Proposition B will appear on the ballot:
“The issuance of $191,000,000 school building bonds for the construction, acquisition and equipment of school buildings in the District, including the rehabilitation, renovation, expansion, improvement and consolidation of District facilities, and levying of the tax in payment thereof.”
The possibility of the proposed new high school or elementary school — or any new district facility — meeting Proposition B qualifications has been publicly discussed in board meetings.
Board member Susan Jones questioned the nonspecific language of Proposition B at the Feb. 13 board meeting, when the board voted unanimously to include the bond on the May 5 ballot.
Jones cited the lack of detail for which projects would be undertaken.
“Proposition B states that it will be for renovations, but it doesn’t specify the schools that we’ve spoken about. So given the lack of specificity in this particular item, what commits those funds to be used for those items we just spoke about?” Jones said to Craft before the board voted on the proposed bond issue.
There contains nothing (in the ballot language) that commits the school district to the publicly discussed projects. Jones expressed concern revolving around future board members who could potentially decide to allocate bond money to new projects.
“Proposition B does provide some leniency, but at the same time, we are going to be educating the community the exact intent of what we plan to do with $191 million,” Craft said in reply to Jones. “To answer your question, if we were to go about taking on other items that are not on the proposition in the education process, I think that would be very ill-advised on our part. This is, in essence, the action plan going forward.”
Months forward, Jones said, she wants the voters to decide how exactly KISD should be shaped and develop.
“I want people to exercise their vote,” Jones said. “Do they want to proceed with a new high school and elementary school, and second, do they want to see us consolidate existing schools? It’s not about what Susan Jones wants. It’s about what the public wants.”
The superintendent denies projects will be undertaken with bond money outside the public dialogue between voters and the district.
“The district has not and will not mislead the public as to how funds associated with each proposition will be expended assuming the measures pass,” Craft said. “To insinuate otherwise is insulting.”
The district has outlined projects in both Proposition A and Proposition B through a planning process spanning back to September, and a bond steering committee of roughly 50 community members.
Craft said each project will require the appropriate approval steps to be taken, which includes trustees voting to hire services for architecture, engineering, construction, construction management and schematic design.
“If Proposition B were to pass and Proposition A were to fail, the district will regroup and work to address the needs in the immediate future, which will likely entail the community being asked to consider another bond election to suffice these needs,” Craft said in an email March 29.
Craft and fellow district officials have been on tour since placing the bond on the ballot in February. He has presented on the bond at four of six scheduled town halls so far, and is in the process of making more than 50 school visits to discuss the bond with KISD employees, according to an itinerary obtained by the Herald.
Craft has also presented the bond issue to the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce, the Killeen Noon Lions Club and other community groups.
Two more KISD-sponsored town hall meetings on the bond are scheduled this month.
Meeting No. 5 will be at 5 p.m. April 5 at Early College High School, 51000 Tank Destroyer Blvd. at Ft. Hood.
The last meeting will be at 6 p.m. April 9 in the cafeteria at Skipcha Elementary on Prospector Trail in Harker Heights.
Early voting in the May 5 bond election begins April 23.