Plans by the Killeen Independent School District to build locker rooms for athletes at the Hood Stadium Complex hit a snag Tuesday, and raised concerns over whether or not the project will be completed before scheduled high school football games begin at the facility in July.
Killeen Deputy Superintendent John Craft told Killeen school board members at a workshop meeting Tuesday that the district would need to negotiate and approve a lease with Fort Hood before it could move forward with a planned $330,000 addition to the stadium, which would add locker room facilities for home and away teams. The $13.5 million stadium opened last year.
Currently the district only has a “memorandum of understanding” with Fort Hood, which allows it to use the 5,500-seat facility for games. However, the Texas Education Code states that school districts cannot spend funds for the design, construction or renovation of improvements to property that they do not own or lease.
The board was set to vote to approve the project at an April 9 meeting, tacking the project’s cost on to the construction of KISD’s 33rd elementary school as a change order, but the item was pulled from the agenda before any vote was taken.
“We need the lease to commence construction,” Craft said.
The district already leases property at Fort Hood for a number of on-post schools. While the district can still negotiate a lease and move forward with the project, the delay comes as the district is set to host nine high school football games at the stadium beginning around the Fourth of July weekend and Fort Hood’s annual Freedom Fest. Craft said the challenge would be getting a lease negotiated and the project built in time for the games.
“The concern we have is timeliness,” he said.
Board members mulled alternatives, from changing the date of games and hosting them at KISD’s Leo Buckley Stadium, to having athletes dress out in tents or off-site facilities if the additions were not complete.
“We are talking about 5A football ... it would be very unusual for that to happen with a 5A football program,” said Robert Muller, KISD superintendent.
Board member Corbett Lawler voiced concerns about the project’s overall cost. “I just don’t know if I’m comfortable about spending that much money on something that we lease,” Lawler said.
As of Tuesday, district officials said they were in the process of negotiating a lease with Fort Hood. The board has not voted on the matter, and no games scheduled to take place at the stadium complex at Fort Hood have been canceled or changed as of Tuesday.
“We’re hoping that it does work out and we do get this thing executed so we can move forward,” Muller said.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.