HARKER HEIGHTS—Inside a portable classroom Wednesday morning at Harker Heights High School after moving inside from the rain, Superintendent John Craft of the Killeen Independent School District said he could talk about the district’s $426 million proposed bond program in his sleep at this point.
Craft put in one last meeting at two district schools Wednesday morning and discussed bond details with news media. He and other school officials hosted those who attended the conference in one of the portable classrooms at HHHS, then inside the security vestibule at Skipcha Elementary.
Up for election this Saturday are two ballot items:
Proposition A is for $235 million and would fund a new high school and elementary school, as well as upgrades to existing facilities. Upgrades could include intercoms, controlled access devices, perimeter fencing and shade structures for outdoor play at elementary schools.
Proposition B is for $191 million. The bond on the ballot says the money will be spent on “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.” It doesn’t specify how it would be spent.
Craft has said KISD would spend it on consolidation of schools and a complete revamp of Killeen High School. Early voting for the bond concluded Tuesday with election day on May 5.
The superintendent and fellow officials have presented information about the bond at about 57 total meetings preceding Wednesday. Out of the presentations, 45 have been given to school staff. The total number of town halls on the schedule is 12.
Following an early voting total of 3,744 ballots cast, a record-high for the decade, Craft said he hopes for at least double the number of voters cast ballots Saturday.
Craft spoke by one of the portables during one of the passing periods at HHHS, and said the top priority of the district is safety. By being forced to have students study in portable classrooms, they are outside for short intervals of time, exposing them.
"Trying to control access points are challenging," Craft said. KISD calls the portable buildings inherently less safe, being accessible from parking lots and streets.
With the passage of the bond program, Craft said up to 50 of the 59 trailer classrooms now on KISD high school campuses would be decommissioned. Out of the 133 elementary trailers, 24 would be decommissioned.
Some residents in past bond meetings have complained about the district not considering retooling decommissioned KISD facilities into new schools. In addition to security benefits, Craft said, new campuses would address “inequities” some older schools face.
Craft also said “enormous efficiencies” would be gained through the consolidation of aged elementary schools. With the passage of Proposition B, an annual operational efficiency of $1.8 million would be gained with the consolidation of East Ward and West Ward Elementary schools, Craft said.
“Staff at these older facilities are working hard to provide excellent educational opportunities to students,” Craft said. “But there are inequities in comparison to our newer campuses: anywhere from technology, ADA compliance and general space in common areas.”
Also included in the bond, Craft said, would be security vestibules installed across the district, like the one he and fellow conference attendees stood inside at Skipcha Elementary.
The vestibules restrict public entry to schools to one single area, and visitors must check in with the central office before being granted access.
KISD officials did not provide the number of schools across the district currently without the vestibules.
Were the bond propositions to fail, Craft said the district would evaluate the district’s needs and take appropriate action.
“If the bond fails, we’ll regroup,” Craft said. “We’ll analyze what we’ll have to do moving forward. Our goal is to provide excellent educational opportunities for our students.”