By Sheena Willliams

Killeen Daily Herald

The 21-day waiting period is going to be like waiting for Christmas explained Dr. Robert Muller with a grin after the Killeen Independent School District's Board of Trustees nominated him as the lone finalist for the position of superintendent Tuesday. A round of applause followed the announcement at the board meeting and Muller shared that the position will be the "highlight of my professional career.

"With the community's support and commitment, the Killeen Independent School District will continue to improve," Muller said.

Along with the nomination of the new superintendent, the board also dealt with issues associated with the rising enrollment of the district's schools. Reeces Creek Elementary has 22 portable buildings for their growing student population and with the input from parents and the school's faculty, Sandy Franklin, elementary instructional leader, shared the most effective recommendations with the board on how to manage the expansion.

The Enrollment Relief Proposal for the school consists of moving the school's pre-kindergartners to Saegert Elementary School and moving its fifth graders to the new Charles Patterson Middle School. Having a wing of the middle school designated for the fifth graders as well as tweaking lunch schedules will help separate the group from the school's middle-school students, Franklin said.

"We've resigned ourselves to the fact that we have to do something and once we put our minds to it – then we do it," said Michelle Taylor, Reeces Creek's principal. "I don't think there will be a negative impact on the students."

Evening out the playing field for the district was also on the agenda as discussions about the new rezoning for some of the elementary and middle schools was explained by Jeff Heckathorn, the district's demographer. Public hearings with concerned parents influenced by the proposal helped give insight to the school attendance boundaries and gave the board a look at parent's apprehensions. Middle schools affected by the rezoning are Eastern Hills, Liberty Hill, Live Oak Ridge, Nolan, Palo Alto, Rancier and Union Grove. Elementary schools affected are Reeces Creek, Willow Springs, Timber Ridge, Cedar Valley and Saegert.

Heckathorn noted that it's never a great time to rezone but with so many pockets of over population and new schools being built with some being shut down – it's better now than later.

"When you start looking at which areas to move, you try to look at natural boundaries instead of splitting neighborhoods. Then I looked at the proximity to the schools," Heckathorn said. "But the plan we have now is the end result of over a year's worth of considerations."

"These proposed zones create stability for our middle-school and elementary attendance and this stabilizes while creating capacity where we need it," Muller said. "That is one of our principles: to utilize the capacity of our buildings. We put a lot of time and attention to creating zones and this is in the best interest of the district for the long term."

Contact Sheena Williams at sheenaw@kdhnews.com or (254)501-7553.

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