The Killeen school bond steering committee recommended $426 million in new construction and renovations from the options given them by Killeen Independent School District officials.
That’s the amount of money the committee suggests will be put to voters in May 2018 on a bond issue that would be repaid by property tax owners in the school district that includes Killeen, Harker Heights, Nolanville, etc.
The committee’s recommendation came after considerable input from the 48 committee members present; a voice vote confirmed unanimous approval recommending the bond issue be presented to the KISD Board of Trustees at its Dec. 12 meeting.
If the bond amount is approved, the approximate annual property tax impact for the owner of a $143,000 home would be about $244, over the 30-year payback period of the bond, according to Baselice & Associates, the Austin-based company that conducted a survey on support for a potential bond package for the district. A homestead was not figured in the calculations.
Here are the expenditures selected by the committee from Superintendent John Craft’s menu:
• Renovations to bring existing campuses into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and address security/safety issues
• New high school to open for 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
• New elementary school to open for 2022-2023 school year
• Renovate and expand Clifton Park Elementary School, with partial rezoning of Bellaire Elementary School
• Renovations to Killeen High School
Tuesday’s announcement by the Killeen City Council that the city is exploring the possibility of calling for a bond election on May 5, 2018 — the same date as the potential KISD bond — sparked a few comments from the bond steering committee members, and a response from John Craft, KISD superintendent.
Craft acknowledged that he had been discussing plans involving Chaparral Road with Harker Heights, Killeen and Bell County officials for “well over three years.”
Matt Gamble, research assistant for Baselice & Associates of Austin, gave a presentation on the community survey the firm conducted on behalf of KISD between Nov. 16 and 26.
Of the 25,000 to 30,000 phone numbers Baselice accessed for the survey, the questions Gamble outlined during his presentation were answered by 401 residents of the district.
That number is far less than 1 percent of Killeen’s population, and the total population of KISD, which includes Harker Heights and Nolanville.
The survey results, according to Gamble, included a 4.9 percent margin of error, as well.
The purpose of the survey, Gamble said, was “to assess current levels of support and opposition to a $500 million bond proposal.”
Baselice described the survey methodology as follows:
“The survey was conducted via telephone (45% cellphone and 55% landline). The survey began by asking respondents if they were registered voters. Only those who answered ‘yes’ were permitted to continue. Sample regions were created using ZIP codes. The desired number of respondents within each sample region was established using an average of voter registration and turnout figures. Gender target response numbers were established with each region consistent with voter registration and turnout.
“Results were slightly weighted within the regions for age, race/ethnicity and usual voter behavior to ensure the sample is reflective of Killeen ISD voters.
“Killeen ISD has a Republican to Democrat ratio of 0.99. This was calculated using the base GOP vote (45.01%) and base Democrat vote (45.51%) over the last two general elections (2106 and 2014). The survey contained 41.1% GOP voters and 42.9% Democrat voters equating to a ratio of 0.96. The racial/ethnic breakdown of Killeen ISD voters was calculated using a blend of census figures and voter turnout.”
Members of the military stationed at Fort Hood, who may not be registered to vote in the district but whose children attend KISD schools, were not considered part of the survey’s random sampling.
“This was a survey of registered voters, the people who would be voting on any proposed bond issue,” Abbott said. “The survey was of voters since they are the ones who will be making the final decision.”
Though registered voters will determine if KISD’s bond issue passes, many other residents of the district will be impacted by that decision.
Military personnel assigned to Fort Hood and others who rent apartments or homes in the district may not be registered voters in Bell County. They could see increased rents due to a hike in property taxes caused by the KISD bond issue.
These residents were not considered for inclusion in Baselice’s survey regarding the bond issue, according to Abbott.
Thursday’s bond steering committee meeting — the fourth and final meeting scheduled — was held at Roy J. Smith Middle School.