Editor's note. This story has been updated
The proposed $426 million taxpayer bond for Killeen Independent School District could be split into two propositions for voter consideration May 5, Superintendent John Craft said Tuesday night.
District spokesman Terry Abbott released the news at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, saying the workshop had just ended.
According to Abbott's report, Craft suggested at a school board workshop Tuesday that the Board of Trustees could consider asking voters to approve on May 5 one bond proposition for $235 million to pay for a new high school, a new elementary school and safety, security and accessibility upgrades at existing campuses, and a second bond proposition for $191 million to build new schools and renovate others to improve KISD campuses that are more than 50 years old. The school board will vote Feb. 13 on whether to call a bond election on May 5.
Even if the City of Killeen postpones a bond issue for infrastructure, the Killeen Independent School District will move forward with construction projects funded by a proposed $426 million bond issue.
Superintendent John Craft made that announcement during the KISD Board of Trustees’ workshop Tuesday evening.
“We will not need the infrastructure on Chaparral tomorrow,” Craft said, referencing the work needed on Chaparral Road to accommodate additional traffic if a new high school opens in 2022. “We have some time to give the City of Killeen and the City of Harker Heights time to arrange their funding.”
The KISD board must vote whether to call the bond election by a Feb. 16 deadline. The vote is slated for the board’s Feb. 13 meeting.
Craft and Adam Rich, KISD executive director of facilities services, went through a detailed Powerpoint presentation of all the projects included in the proposed bond issue:
• Renovations to bring existing campuses into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and address security/safety issues.
• A new high school to open for the 2022-2023 school year.
• Consolidation of East Ward and West Ward elementary schools with construction of a new East Ward school.
• Consolidation of Pershing Park and Sugar Loaf elementary schools, with partial rezoning of Bellaire Elementary School, and construction of a new Pershing Park school.
• A new elementary school to open for the 2022-2023 school year.
• Renovation and expansion of Clifton Park Elementary School, with partial rezoning of Bellaire Elementary School.
• Renovations to Killeen High School.
In the presentation, a timeline listed the projects to be funded by the bond, with start and end dates.
If the bond passes on the May 5 ballot, many of those projects would commence on May 8, including the East Ward/West Ward consolidation, the new high school, the Killeen High School renovations, and the Pershing Park, Sugar Loaf and Bellaire Elementary consolidation.
The security upgrades to existing KISD schools would commence in July, and be completed over the course of four years, according to the time line.
Craft emphasized one reason to move ahead with the bond is the continued growth in student population in the district. In a separate presentation, Craft presented KISD district demographer Jeff Heckathorn’s report on projected growth for the 2018-2019 school year.
Heckathorn predicts a growth rate of 1.29 percent, which is above the average 1 percent used by Craft during his presentations to the bond steering committee in November, and in other public forums.
If Heckathorn’s estimates hold true, Craft said, KISD enrollment would be near 45,000 students in the next school year.
In other business:
• The board reviewed its goals and priorities for the 2018-2019 school year, as compiled during their special meeting on Jan. 3. That document contains special education-related points, including surveying special education parents “to determine support for a Special Education Academy for which attendance would be voluntary.”
Another point: “Work to increase overall parental satisfaction with the special education program and service.”
• A review of progress since Huckabee, Inc. was selected in November as architect for the new elementary school to be built on Morganite Lane in Killeen was presented to the board. The school is estimated to cost $37.1 million, paid through existing KISD funds. Construction should be complete in time for the school to open for the 2019-2020 school year.
• The board reviewed the memorandum of understanding with Temple College for the Texas Bioscience Institute program. A maximum of 120 KISD students participate in the program. High school juniors from the district enrolled in the TBI program for the 2017-2018 program will continue to receive funding by KISD through their senior year.
The plan Craft presented to the board noted any juniors wishing to enroll in the TBI program for the 2018-2019 school year would not receive funding from KISD, since the new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program will be funded through Central Texas College beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.
Board member Susan Jones objected to that clause as not offering equity to students wishing to enroll in the TBI program. She requested KISD match the $90 amount per credit hour which would be paid for students enrolled in CTC’s STEM program for those attending TBI. Parents of TBI students would pay the $39 per credit hour difference.
Craft agreed to revisit the agreement with Temple College and discuss it further at the next board meeting.
• The KISD board reviewed a total of $71,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors. The 20 scholarships being awarded range from $2,500 to $4,000, coming from endowed scholarship funds.
• A newly implemented administrative procedure dealing with religious expression was discussed by the KISD board at the workshop. The three-page document allows student-initiated prayer on an individual or group basis, as long as it does not disrupt the school program. School-sponsored prayer is not allowed, as it violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
KISD employees are directed by the procedure to avoid personal expressions of faith while working. They may not participate in student led prayer while on duty. Employees may display personal religious items in an “unobtrusive manner” in their personal work space, but should not be displayed to influence the beliefs of others. Employees may wear jewelry with religious symbols as long as they are not disruptive or pose a safety risk.
KISD employees may not place religious items on shared or instructional spaces within the classroom.
Information on religious topics must be presented objectively, as with the cultural basis for religious holidays, according to the procedure.
Items requiring votes which were reviewed during Tuesday’s meeting will be placed on the consent agenda for the Feb. 13 KISD board meeting.