MONEY

The Killeen Independent School District’s bond steering committee has agreed to recommend a $426 million bond issue to the KISD Board of Trustees at its Dec. 12 meeting.

The committee’s consensus Thursday came after weeks of meetings and discussions based on information presented by KISD administrators. Also in the mix was a community survey conducted by Baselice & Associates of Austin.

“I want to be very, very transparent throughout this entire process,” KISD Superintendent John Craft said during the first meeting of the KISD bond steering committee Nov. 2 at Harker Heights High School.

KISD gave the public access to the bond steering committee process through a website: www.killeenisdbsc.org.

The public has access to documents and videos on the website, and could post questions and comments about the bond issue process, as well.

Craft has been less informative about how he chose members of the committee that would make important recommendations about spending residents’ property tax money. Craft said he was inviting more than 100 community members to serve on the committee, but has yet to divulge how the committee members were selected despite an official public information request submitted by the Herald on Oct. 31.

At weekly committee meetings, KISD officials presented via Powerpoint slides, potential projects school officials had compiled, along with background information.

By Nov. 16, the committee had prioritized proposed projects, among them a new high school, a new middle school, three new elementary schools, and consolidations/renovations of older schools.

The cost of those projects, if all were included in the bond issue, would exceed $700 million.

The committee continued to move toward creating a recommendation for the KISD board, including a project list and bond amount to cover those projects, which will be presented at the Dec. 12 regular board meeting. The board must vote by a Feb. 16 deadline whether to call for a bond election for the May 5, 2018, ballot.

INFORMATION NOT DISCLOSED

During its first three meetings, however, the bond steering committee made decisions without knowing the city of Killeen would need a related bond issue to fund infrastructure for the KISD school construction projects, that also would increase taxes for Killeen property owners. That information was not included in any of the Powerpoint presentations given by KISD at the meetings.

Those participating in the community survey conducted by Baselice & Associates were not informed an additional bond issue by the city could be on the same May 5 ballot.

Craft did not reveal this information to the KISD Board Members, either, according to KISD board president Corbett Lawler, and board members Carlyle Walton and Shelley Wells.

On Tuesday, Craft and Megan Bradley, KISD chief financial officer, gave a presentation on the potential bond issue at the Killeen City Council meeting, just prior to attending a KISD board workshop.

“We know he has been in conversation with the cities,” Lawler said on Wednesday about discussions with Harker Heights and Killeen officials regarding building new schools and other projects.

When told about the Tuesday Killeen City Council meeting, Lawler acknowledged, “This is the first I’ve heard that it [a city bond issue] would be on the same date as ours.”

Walton said, “It’s news to me.”

Wells said she sat next to Bradley during the dinner prior to Tuesday’s KISD board workshop. “Megan told me they had been to the city, but didn’t say why.”

Neither Craft nor Olson expressed any concern about the rather secretive way the city’s bond announcement transpired.

“In my mind, they are companion issues,” Olson said. “You are not doing schools without the infrastructure to reach those schools. If they move forward with a bond, we need to move forward with a bond.”

Craft said in an email Wednesday, “City Manager Ron Olson and I have discussed the potential of a new high school program, as well as future middle school program to be constructed along Chaparral, just south of the police station. We continue to work collaboratively with our city and county partners to ensure infrastructure and forward planning is in place to support future educational facilities. This is an important part of strategically planning for the future growth of our communities and school district.”

No information about these discussions was mentioned to the bond steering committee or the KISD board. No agenda items over the past few months, for KISD board meetings or workshops, hinted at such discussions.

After the prospect of a Killeen city bond became public last week, Craft was asked during the Thursday bond steering committee meeting if the results of the community survey would have changed if information about the city’s prospective bond issue had been included.

Matt Gamble, vice president of operations for Baselice & Associates, who had provided an overview of the survey at that meeting, had already left the building.

Craft could not provide an answer.

Craft’s pledge of transparency is further challenged by notations on the bond issue calendar distributed to board members, bond steering committee members, and on the newly created website.

Sessions during December and early January will deal with preparing the recommendation for presentation to the KISD board, developing a bond communication strategy, messaging and branding, and consulting with district’s financial advisor and bond counsel.

Only a few names of those involved in these sessions have been made public. Bond steering committee chairmen Brenda Coley, Bill Kliewer and Hal Schiffman will help with preparing the recommendation for the board.

Huckabee, Inc. will participate in the sessions on messaging, strategy and branding.

RBC Capital Markets of Dallas and the law firm Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP will be consulted during the January sessions.

These sessions will not be open to the public, and are deemed “internal work,” according to Terry Abbott, KISD chief communications officer.

Craft told the bond steering committee members at the Thursday meeting the bond issue will not so much be a marketing campaign as an educational effort.

The tentative plan is to visit every school campus, as well as civic organizations, to spread the word. “We’ll be pounding the pavement to make sure the community receives the information,” Craft said.

He mentioned the bond steering committee members will be asked to help in this effort, as “leaders in the community.”

Exactly what the message will be, and how transparent it will be, should be known by mid-January.

Craft said, “it will be an incredibly busy spring” to get the bond passed on the May 5 election.

254-501-7568 | jferraro@kdhnews.com

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(6) comments

SnowWhiteNthe7Thieves

THE JOURNEY ...-AKA-...SCHLECTHY...-MILLIONS of $$$$...disappeared

dailymajor

Alvin, reading your comments(opinions), I do not think that I am the long winded one here. The size of the high school has been discussed in articles, as well as some of the meetings that have been held about the bond issue. I'm sure , since you are so concerned, that you went to a couple of meetings didn't you? ..As far as the tax rate goes, that has been discussed several times, also. Maybe you had better pay closer attention and get the facts before you start just howling about higher taxes and the fact that, no matter what, you are voting no for this bond. You are uninformed and against any raise in taxes, although we do have a very low tax rate now....Everybody gets you, I'm sure.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@dailymajor: You just don't give up with this witless banter do you????

As I've said many times before, 'to ask people for a very large stipend as in the $426 million dollar, and which can possibly, and probably will be, increased without any of the usual and customary items that are included in the architecture of 'a plan of action', but are not available in this bond'.

So, @dailymajor, 'they have not answered my questions as they, the school board and the people down in Austin for one question that seems to be hanging is 'whether or not the people of this town can and will expect to see a very large increase in their tax rate.

The Web site did not answer any of my questions, they wrote the same old 'Fluff' that is generally presented to fill up the page, IE: there wasn't mention of a new school size, nor what was going to built in or at this new school, nor what the cost, including a normal contingency that they expected not to exceed in this building. They don't even have a design yet so how can the expect to meet the cost, that isn't even prepared yet. So no @dailymajor, there has not been any answers, just a continuum of 'fluff'.

Yes I can imagine that you are willing to spend any amount of money, 'Yes for a few dollars more', we can buy the moon, but in the real world, that is not the case. So, in my mind, this school board should be prepared to answer questions such as 'what is the layout of the new high school???? What is the projected cost for the new high school??? And so on, These are questions that I used to be prepared to answer when I was in the work force, but you don't seem to think that is important.

So in closing, This school board should be prepared to answer these typical questions in order to get my vote, otherwise 'It's going to be 'NO' on this bond issue and any subsequent future bond issue that will be forth coming.

And this city of Killeen should start worrying about the citizens that reside in the city limits and not those that are outside of the city limits. I really can't be too concerned about these individuals and don't want to provide roadways and bridges to support this avenue of progress. So again, I will not vote for any bond that is for the infrastructure or expansion that is for those that live outside of the city limits.


This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

dailymajor

Eye, you are right ! Let's not let those selfish people that are thinking about our schools and the futures of thousands of children get in the way of our few dollars a month that are taxes might be raised. What in the world are they thinking, anyway. THEY are soo shameful, right? I absolutely can't miss those few dollars a month, just for our children, can you?
Alvin, they have answered your question.. ..in detail.

eyewatchingu

Vote NO, don't fall for these scams.
Vote no, think about your own pocket book, and what that money could buy you in 30 years. Don't put the rest of us in debt because of these selfish people.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

Copy: “I want to be very, very transparent throughout this entire process,” KISD Superintendent John Craft said during the first meeting of the KISD bond steering committee Nov. 2 at Harker Heights High School.' End of copy.

I imagine Superintendent John Craft and I have two completely different versions of the word, 'Transparent', for these articles have not, nor did not reflect an clear objective regarding the $426 million dollar KISD school bond.


Copy: 'KISD gave the public access to the bond steering committee process through a website: www.killeenisdbsc.org.' End of copy.

I've looked at the web site and in my opinion, 'it is just another web fluff site, talking but not saying of value'.

Copy: 'Craft has been less informative about how he chose members of the committee that would make important recommendations about spending residents’ property tax money. Craft said he was inviting more than 100 community members to serve on the committee, but has yet to divulge how the committee members were selected despite an official public information request submitted by the Herald on Oct. 31. End of copy.

Now this says he is closed mouthed, the opposite of transparent, and has not submitted anything of value in the solicitation of committee members.

Copy: 'During its first three meetings, however, the bond steering committee made decisions without knowing the city of Killeen would need a related bond issue to fund infrastructure for the KISD school construction projects, that also would increase taxes for Killeen property owners. That information was not included in any of the Powerpoint presentations given by KISD at the meetings.' End of copy.

So the city and KISD does not talk to one another. Big deal, they never have and operate as single entities totally separate from one another.

Copy: 'These sessions will not be open to the public, and are deemed “internal work,” according to Terry Abbott, KISD chief communications officer.' End of copy.

There's another factor in which the city council and the KISD function the same, 'the supposedly need for secrecy'. Why doesn't the KISD along with the city administrative group talk as in 'providing the knowledge of what is going on and making that available to everybody'????

Copy: 'Exactly what the message will be, and how transparent it will be, should be known by mid-January.' End of copy.

I see that this message has also been of questionable communication.

Question: Why does the KISD not be more transparent in telling the people of school age children, and others that support the efforts of the KISD the Who, What, Where, and Why this school board even functions as to telling the people that there is a number of new schools, renovated schools, and schools that are to be demolished and just giving the bottom line: so many hundreds of millions of dollars.

To this I say 'NO' to the city and KISD bond issue.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

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