Concerns about whether a $426 million bond issue would pass on a May 5 election led to another option being presented as Tuesday night’s Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees workshop topped four hours.
“Board members said they had heard some concern from the community about the cost of the renovation” to Killeen High School, which is listed on the bond proposal at $80 million, according to Terry Abbott, KISD chief communication officer.
As the workshop discussion progressed, KISD superintendent John Craft suggested the $426 million package be split into two propositions: One for $235 million, and the other for $191 million.
A $235 million proposal, school officials said, would allow voters to approve funds for three projects on the 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.
• A new elementary school to open for the 2022-2023 school year.
A $191 million proposal would give voters the opportunity to fund consolidation of existing schools into newly built campuses, and renovate other schools over 50 years old:
• 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.
• Renovation and expansion of Clifton Park Elementary School, with partial rezoning of Bellaire Elementary School.
• Renovations to Killeen High School.
Craft stressed the need for a new high school, with three of the four existing KISD high schools exceeding student capacity. A new high school, estimated to cost $171 million, could not be built in the district without approval of a bond issue.
“It is critically important to the quality of education in Killeen ISD that we build a new high school. The current enrollments and the projections make that clear,” Craft said during the board workshop.
KISD student enrollment is expected to be close to 45,000 next school year.
“The idea (to split the $426 million bond) seemed to have broad general support from the board members,” said Abbott. “Several expressed the belief this approach would give voters more flexibility and options.”
The board discussed how “making the bond election two propositions would give voters a chance to focus on the schools to relieve overcrowding and to improve safety and access for people with disabilities and, separately, on the improvements needed at the older schools,” Abbott said.
The KISD board must vote whether to call a bond election for the May 5 ballot by a Feb. 16 deadline. The vote has been placed on the agenda for the board’s Feb. 13 regular meeting.