Killeen resident Michael Boyd, a 2003 Ellison High School graduate, recalled looking around at lunchtime at the hundreds of students overcrowding the school when he attended the school.
As the student population continues to swell, he said he thinks supporting Killeen Independent School District’s proposed $426 million bond is imperative.
“I think it’s critical the voters really pay attention to the bond and support it. With the growth going on now, it only helps the community,” he said Thursday at a bond issue voter education meeting at the KISD Career Center. “If we don’t pass it, we would take several steps back.”
Several other district residents also voiced their support for the proposed bond issue at Thursday’s meeting, which attracted more than 10 local residents.
It was the third of six meetings planned by the district to promote the $426 million in proposed, taxpayer-funded bonds.
Nobody attended the first meeting at Harker Heights High School on Tuesday, and those who attended the second meeting Wednesday at Killeen High School were highly critical of the bond. But those at the third expressed appreciation to Superintendent John Craft for his presentation.
They quizzed Craft on the proposed $171 million high school that would be built on district-owned property on Chaparral Road. The school would be 400,000 square feet and would have a capacity for 2,500 students.
Brian Cotton, a teacher at Ellison High School and 20-year resident of Killeen, said the bond would be “well worth it over time” as the area continues to pick up more students.
“I think that as we grow as a city and as we grow as a school district, it’s almost imperative to think about new facilities,” he said. “All our buildings are very old. We need new buildings to accommodate our growth. When you go by the schools, they are crowded. I’m fully in support of the bond.”
Cotton said he lives by Chaparral Road and asked Craft whether there were plans to improve the road’s infrastructure. The superintendent affirmed Cotton’s concerns, calling the drive down Chaparral Road “an experience.”
KISD intends to stay in constant communication with both the city of Killeen and Harker Heights to address needed improvements on the county road, Craft said.
“We would not be doing our due diligence to land a high school of 2,500 students on the existing infrastructure,” he said. “Working with both Killeen and Harker Heights on the county road is a continuous conversation.”
Meeting attendees also asked Craft whether the new high school would feature physics, chemistry and other labs for STEM programs, as well as whether another Career Center, like the one they were sitting in, is in the works.
Boyd specifically asked if the district planned to invest in drones in the near future.
Craft smiled in response, and said an inventory list for open board approval in the near future will includes drones. A district official also referred to KISD’s middle school STEM programming, and how existing curriculum and community partnerships underscore the district’s focus on science and technology.
Residents on social media said they hadn’t been informed of the meetings, and although the meetings were reported several times in the Herald, the district has not phone-called, emailed or given fliers on the bond education meetings to students to deliver to their families, according to chief communication officer Terry Abbott.
Craft told meeting attendees the district has slated 52 campus visits on the bond between now and the May 5 election, and that the district will continue to stay active on social media to update the community.
Meeting No. 5 will be held 4:30 p.m. April 5 at Central Texas College on West Central Texas Expressway.
The last meeting of this series will be held 6 p.m. April 9 in the cafeteria at Skipcha Elementary on Prospector Trail in Harker Heights.
In addition, Craft with speak at a Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce luncheon March 5. The event is open to the public. Lunch is $15. For more information or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org