For the Killeen Independent School District’s potential bond that tops $400 million, the results of a community survey indicated 57 percent of those participating would approve the bond, while 38 percent oppose it.
The community survey was part of the bond steering committee’s process to prioritize projects presented by KISD for the potential bond issue planned for the May 5 ballot. The committee’s ultimate recommendation of a $426 million bond issue will be presented to the KISD board of trustees at the board’s Dec. 12 meeting.
KISD officials are saying the survey results are a sign of strong support for the bond.
“Now there is a scientifically valid survey showing very strong voter support for a bond,” said KISD spokesman Terry Abbott.
Mike Helm, a member of the KISD’s bond steering committee, challenged the validity. Helm was called by surveyors for Baselice & Associates of Austin, who conducted the survey for the KISD bond process.
At the Thursday night bond steering committee meeting, Helm rose to speak about the survey.
“I randomly got selected,” Helm said. He had issues with the way the survey questions were asked by the Baselice staff. “The results might not be quite as good as what the survey appears that they are in my mind.”
Matt Gamble, vice president of operations for Baselice & Associates, presented the community survey results at the bond steering committee meeting Thursday night.
Projects to be included on the recommended bond issue:
• 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.
The community survey took place Nov. 16-26, according to Gamble. From a master list of 25,000 to 30,000 phone numbers of registered voters living in KISD boundaries, the responses of 401 individuals were compiled for the results.
The margin of error for the survey was plus-or-minus 4.9 percent.
As Gamble said, the key objective for the community survey was “to assess the current levels of support and opposition to a $500 million bond proposal.”
Gamble acknowledged, “This survey is a snapshot in time of voters’ opinions.”
A snapshot based on less than 1 percent of the district’s total population of about 178,000, and less than 1 percent of the district’s 100,543 registered voters, according to Matt Dutton, Bell County assistant elections administrator.
A snapshot KISD believes is “scientifically valid,” according to Abbott.
Baselice outlined the methodology:
“The survey was conducted via telephone (45 percent cellphone and 55 percent 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.”
Gamble described the results in light of the fact, “Older voters are more likely to vote.” To that end, Baselice made sure to tell older voters KISD’s bond issue would have no impact on their property taxes, as long as the senior citizens had filed for that exemption.
The way questions were asked in the survey also affected the results, Gamble said. If participants were asked first whether they would approve of a $225 million bond, those who agreed might change to disapproval as they were asked about a $400 million, $500 million or $600 million bond.
But, Gamble said, when participants were first asked about a $600 million bond, then a $500 million bond, more were likely to agree with the lower amount.
Gamble highlighted how the 401 participants were distributed through the district. On a map designated by area ZIP codes, 97 individuals in the north-central area were surveyed, with 108 in the eastern section. On the west section of the map, 89 people were surveyed, and 107 in the south central section.
Grace Evans lives in what was designated on Baselice’s map as the south-central region. She received a call from Baselice regarding the survey. When she answered her phone, the caller said, “We need to speak to a male registered voter.”
Evans asked, “Why not a female registered voter?”
The caller replied, “We’re only speaking to male registered voters.”
Evans was not permitted to participate in the survey for that reason, she said.
Additional questions about the survey results stem from the reported margin of error, plus-or-minus 4.9 percent. That means all the results could swing five points up or down.
The results of what Baselice called the “informed ballot” — asking whether participants in the survey would approve a $500 million bond after being told about the advantages and disadvantages of the bond issue — were listed in Gamble’s presentation with 57 percent approval and 38 percent against. The margin of error means those numbers could actually be 52 percent approval and 43 percent against, or 62 percent approval and 33 percent against.
According to Businesswire.com, a Berkshire-Hathaway company, many factors can play into the margin of error, as well.
Nonresponse errors: Pollsters often do not complete interviews with most of the people they intend to survey because they are not available or refuse to be interviewed.
Errors due to question wording or question order: The answers to questions are sometimes influenced by such things as how the questions are posed, what questions were asked earlier in the survey, or which responses are presented to the respondent, among other things.
Errors due to interviewers: Interviewers sometimes influence, often unconsciously, the answers given by the people they survey (e.g. social desirability, acquiescence bias, researcher expectancy effects, etc.).
Weighting errors: Most polls are “weighted” statistically to compensate for demographic and other biases in the survey sample; this is an imperfect process. Weighting the data can cause errors in the results.
According to the firm’s website, “Michael Baselice, president of Baselice & Associates, Inc., has conducted over 1,800 quantitative and qualitative research projects over the last 20 years.”
Research by the Killeen Daily Herald shows Baselice specializes in Republican political campaigns and polling. He worked on the Trump campaign in 2016, and for Gov. Greg Abbott and former Gov. Rick Perry.