KISD News Conference

Killeen Independent School District Superintendent John Craft speaks to media about the proposed bond program Wednesday inside the security vestibule at Skipcha Elementary in Harker Heights.

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.”

mpayne@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7553

Herald staff writer

(12) comments

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@Choosewisely: You Sir/Mam, you have hit the nail right on the head, where it makes @Killeen patriot cringe.
Of all of the huffing and puffing from our compatriots, this article says it all, the comparative salary's, the fact that 'there is error in the statements made by this person, gentle but costly when it comes to telling the truth.
And finally, for all of the huffing and puffing that has been going on around here, I trust the citizens of this city to 'do the right thing'.

And finally, you are correct in pointing out that a no vote does not necessarily mean that we, as adults, don't know what we are talking about and in fact want that our children will end up in the cess pool called humanity. We wish for the best for our children.
Many coodoo's to all of you that have chosen to 'not buckle under to the others that have chosen to deride individuals simply because they think that is the thing to do'.

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.

Alvin

This is the personal comments of this writer.
Once again you people who are on the side of this city council, mayor, and supporters of the KISD bond arrangement have chosen to reflect on one single comment, that you didn't even get right.
What I said was, and this is for publication,:
Copy: 'So goes the chemical company that employs a highly dangerous Sulfuric, Acid within the boundary's of the city limits and has done so at the expense of 'not allowing, to date, a vote by the entire sitting council.' End of copy.
Note I said that this company allows in it's manufacture, a highly concentrated form of Sulfuric Acid in it's manufacturing process. Now when you stopped supplying 'a form of' refrigeration to this chemical it 'tends' to have a rise in temperature and thus an elevation in pressure. When the temperature and pressure exceeds the setting of the PSV, Pressure relieving Safety valve the valve will open causing the Sulfuric Acid to 'relieve to the atmosphere thus contamination of the surrounding area. If fire is present, there can be an resultant explosion.
Yes, you are correct, ' The product is industrial grade hydrogen peroxide, not sulfuric acid, as Sulfuric Acid is one of this company's byproduct which needs to disposed of in a safe and efficient manor. But you are wrong on your answer of disputing what was the impact of my statement and your wanting to restate my answer with your incorrect assumption, and that was the only thing you chose to conclude.
As far as 'all of us moving', I don't think so. So based on the results of the bond issue of May 5, 2008, maybe, just maybe it should be you that has no regard for it's people and safety that should 'pack up and secure your quest for greener pastures.
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.

Killeen patriot

Here is what I have to say..... all Y'all need to move. That's right... MOVE! Half the facts in these comments are wrong. The new chemical company makes industrial grade hydrogen peroxide, not sulfuric acid. I think the fact speak for themselves. The district has built over 12 buildings since 2002 without bond funds. I think that is a pretty good steward. Craft's salary is crumbs compare to austin, ft. worth, or some other ISDs in Texas. Petty regressives is all I am seeing post on this paper. I think other conservatives who care about our kids just laugh at your comments instead of taking the time to respond.

Choosewisely

You have made a bit of a misrepresentation or two.

First, the ISD has built 12 new campuses without any NEW bond funds. Most of those campuses were built using the bond funds from 2002.

Second, you are trying to compare the salary of the KISD superintendent to those in districts that are double the size of ours. Killeen ISD has a student population of approximately 44,000 spread across 52 campuses with 2860.4 Full time teachers making it the 25th largest ISD in TX. The KISD operating budget is around $525.5 million a year. Austin ISD has a student population of approximately 83,000 students spread across 130 campuses and employs 5,793.1 full time teachers, making them the 6th largest ISD in Texas. Their operating budget is approximately $1.3 Billion a year. Fort Worth ISD has approximately 87,000 students enrolled at their 129 campuses who are taught by the 5,689.4 full time teachers. They are the 5th largest ISD in the state and have an operating budget of around $1.5 Billion.

Dr. Craft earns $255,000 a year (not including benefits). The Austin ISD superintendent is paid $311,000 a year, and in Ft Worth the superintendent is paid $355,000 (if he earns his $25,000 bonus). That is 82% of what the 2 other districts you mentioned pay their superintendents, for a school district that is half the size. But, yeah....crumbs.

Finally, to imply that a No vote means a person doesn't care about kids is a blatant attempt to manipulate emotions. Perhaps people would vote No because they care about our kids and don't want them burdened with an extra half a billion dollars in debt when there is no evidence that every attempt was made to be a good steward of money and prioritize where funding was spent before this rushed bond proposal.

Also, please respect that people can have different opinions and we don't need to tell them to move. I openly invite you to stay in Killeen and help our students and the future of our city.

Cherbear

And at this late date my vote still hasn't changed. I will still vote NO on Saturday. Ya know, maybe the schools would be doing much better if we weren't paying that superintendent so much money. Just think of all the teachers that could get a raise or Killeen could buy some new updated supplies. Maybe I wouldn't feel like we were being robbed then.

Mbrown4killeen

"By being forced to have students study in portable classrooms, they are outside for short intervals of time, exposing them." - Quote by Dr. Craft.

Yet when water is shut off to schools KISD has NO problem walking students to another campus or having them go outside to porta potties. The sheer audacity and hypocrisy of this statement is maddening. It's not ok when the district wants money, but it is more than acceptable if the district would lose money by closing the campus for a day. Parents were assured that students were in NO undue danger by going outside or down the street to use the bathroom. Therefore, if this is their rationale for wanting a HALF A BILLION DOLLARS, I will continue to encourage citizens to vote NO!

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

Well it's time to cut bait – one if you can see the handwriting on the wall or – two you still believe the 'Punch and Judy' scenes this city, this city council, this KSID, and this Chamber of Commerce as they are all in this as a unified body.

No one was talking about a $426 million dollar bond. No one was talking about the roads and bridges that would seem to be necessary to develop in concert the 3,750 home construction project except in hushed tones. No one was talking about the water and waste water plant that would be necessary to build the 3,750 home development as they were all projected to be a shortage of 'water meters'. H say it isn't so.....
So now this city has in it's hip pocket the simple majority of 4 that seem to be doing so well. It does not matter that the other 3 city council members even exist for they know where the votes count
And it does not matter that the city council way back in 1990 voted to empower the KEDC voting rights that changed the scope of this city to one that can cause this city to enter into contractual arrangements without the consent of the city council. So goes the chemical company that employs a highly dangerous Sulfuric, Acid within the boundary's of the city limits and has done so at the expense of 'noting allowing, to date, a vote by the entire sitting council.
Now this KISD came onto the scene and has the audacity to say to the people 'what a wonderful job we are doing spending your money in such a fashion and is aghast when it is thrown up in the school boards face.
Yes, I am against this wanton spending of 'our money, our resources'. Do not let this School board, this city council, this city management to continue to control our city for it is 'our city'
Vote NO on all aspects of this May 5, 2018 election.

@Majig89: Yes I agree with you on all accounts. Just imagine, where can a School Superintendent get $253,000.00 for trying to pull the wool over it's constituents faces.

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.

MAJAG89

the exact code violated is the Texas Election Code 255.003.
I'm sure it was an honest mistake and not meant with malice, but it is in fact a violation of the law.

MAJAG89

New legislation effective September 1, 2009, further clarifies that an officer or employee of a political subdivision may not spend or authorize the spending of public funds for a communication describing a measure if the communication contains information that:

(1) the officer or employee knows is false; and

(2) is sufficiently substantial and important as to be reasonably likely to influence a voter to vote for or against the measure.

Dr. Craft's comment about the $1.8M in saving is false base don the district's plan re-purpose the West ward facility and today's two media events are clearly an attempt to influence the voters to vote for the measure.

Dr. Craft and KISD have violated the law and committed a Class A misdemeanor.

MAJAG89

One more item. These two events are clearly "campaign" events aimed at trying to show why people should vote YES on the bond. By law Dr Craft and KISD are prohibited from campaigning for or against the passage of a bond.
Dr. Craft and KISD broke the law.
It's no different than if someone tried to hand out "information pamphlets" inside the designated voting area.
Since voting has already started, the time for informational meeting is over. These two meetings are clearly campaign events FOR the passage of the bond.
DR. Craft is not allowed by law to do that in his capacity as superintendent.

MAJAG89

These two pop up "meets" are pure dog and pony show events.
The portable at HHHS was placed there just over a month ago.
The Superintendent is not being truthful about the $1.8M operating saving. it is true if West Ward is closed, however Dr Craft is on record as saying the district will re-purpose the building for staff development. it will cost more than $1.8M to turn the lights on in this building "which supposedly has inequalities".
Speaking of inequalities, at no time in any official presentation or documentation were these "inequalities" discussed or cited as the reason for consolidation. Only after being questioned about why West Ward was picked at a previous Skipcha meeting has Dr Craft relied on this false argument.
It's a shame Dr Craft didn't hold his pop up meeting in a portable at West Ward to highlight these "inequalities".
Oh that's right there are NO portables at West Ward.
Meanwhile just 1.8 miles down the road at the 57-year old Peebles Elementary is 200 students over capacity and the largest user of portables in KISD at the elementary level . Yet nothing in the bond impacts them directly or is targeted for that school.
Tell the truth KISD.

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

You can bet their internal polling shows EXACTLY what mine does. Yes, I do internal polling, too. Internal polling is very revealing. I won't spoil the ending, because they still have ways to defeat the will of the people.

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