The Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to ask taxpayers for $426 million in school construction and renovations in a May 5 bond issue.
By a unanimous 7-0 vote, the board agreed to ask district voters to consider two propositions — one for $235 million and the other for $191 million.
The vote came after the board viewed a 42-slide presentation that will be used to educate the community about the bond issue.
Board president Corbett Lawler praised Superintendent John Craft and the bond steering committee, which was selected by the school district, for what he called a transparent process in pushing a long-term investment.
“What drives the whole thing is this: what the best thing is for kids,” he said. “If you don’t see a kid in your mind when you consider all this, then I think something is wrong. This [bond] answers a problem, and it’s a difficult problem.”
The $426 million in total bonds to appear on the May 5 ballot outweighs investing in short-term, portable buildings to supplement swelling enrollment, Lawler said. The district currently has 232 portable buildings for a total of 290 portable classrooms.
The idea to break the bond issue into multiple propositions was suggested by board member JoAnn Purser at the Dec. 12 board meeting. Craft revisited the possibility at the Jan. 23 meeting, offering a proposal for the bond to be broken into two parts.
The $235 million Proposition A would include renovations to bring existing campuses into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and a new elementary and high school to open for the 2022-2023 school year.
The new high school would be constructed on Chaparral Road in south Killeen, with the new elementary on property not yet purchased by the district, also in south Killeen.
The $191 million Proposition B would cover consolidation of existing schools into newly built campuses, and renovation of schools older than 50 years. Killeen High School alone would see $75 million in renovations.
“I think it’s warranted. I think it’s justified. I think it’s needed to do our very best educating for our students,” Craft said. “Regardless of the bond or not, [our teachers] will work tirelessly to ensure the students have the absolute best educational programming possible.”
Board member Susan Jones questioned the nonspecific language of Proposition B, citing the lack of detail for what projects would be undertaken.
Craft said the board will maintain transparency if the district is granted those bond funds.
“The projects will still go through steps of approval by the board,” Craft said. “This is not a blank check. The board will take action through a series of steps.”
The last construction bond for the district was passed in 2002, which levied $98 million that was utilized through the 2007-2008 school year.
KISD has seen an enrollment growth of 7,520 students since the last bond was levied. The district anticipates to grow by 4,637 in the next 10 years.
Craft said all existing facilities since that time have been built from facility fund balances outside of bond funds, such as the district’s new elementary school that is scheduled to open for the 2019-2020 school year.
“All of these existing facilities have been brought online utilizing existing funds,” Craft said. “In better terms: savings.”
The current maintenance and operation tax rate of $1.04 would be unaffected. However, the interest and sinking tax rate, which finances a district’s facilities, would rise to 22 cents for a total of $1.26 per $100 of property value. That is a total of $112.80 annually for a home valued at $100,000, district figures show.
Killeen residents can visit www.votetexas.gov and click the “Am I Registered?” tab to check whether they are registered to vote. Residents can also call the Bell County elections office at 254-933-5774. The deadline for registering to vote is April 5.
Early voting for the May election begins on April 23 and ends on May 1.
The last day to apply for a ballot by mail is April 24. Ballot-by-mail applications must be received by that day.
IN OTHER BUSINESS
Twenty high school seniors scheduled to graduate from Killeen ISD schools this spring will share $71,000 in college scholarships. The money comes from Killeen ISD college fund endowments, which include the historic Parrie Haynes endowment. The Haynes endowment will fund two $2,500 scholarships for KISD seniors this year.
The board approved the proposed design for Elementary School No. 35. The $37 million school will be built with existing funds (not from the bond) and will open in August 2019. The school site is just west of the southern end of Rosewood Drive in White Rock Estates, at the intersection of Obsidian Drive and Morganite Lane.
The board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Temple College for the Texas Bioscience Institute (TBI) Program for the 2018-2019 School Year for the continuation of students in the TBI program.
Tuition and fees will remain unaltered from the current year at $129.00 per semester hour. KISD student enrollment at TBI remains capped at 120 students.
The 2017-2018 junior cohort will continue to receive full funding from KISD as outlined in the agreement through their senior year.
Any new students entering the program starting in the 2018-2019 school year will receive partial funding ($90 per student credit hour) from KISD.
Students beginning the program next year will be responsible for arranging their own transportation.