Four candidates running for seats on the Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees met Monday afternoon for a candidate forum in Killeen.
Sponsored by the Exchange Club of Killeen, the forum included incumbent members Shelley Wells and Susan Jones, and their challengers, Lan Carter and John Gilmore.
The candidates spoke briefly on their qualifications and answered questions from attendees and the media.
Topics included the district’s budget priorities, funding and teacher longevity stipends. The candidates also answered questions about their stance on a possible $330,000 expenditure to build two locker room additions to the Fort Hood Stadium Complex.
Both Carter and Gilmore expressed doubts about whether they would support the expenditure. Wells and Jones indicated they were in favor of the project.
Gilmore, who is running against Jones for the board’s Place 2 seat, said he supported the partnership with Fort Hood, but disagreed with spending money on the facility in a “piecemeal” fashion.
“I think at this point, without seeing a plan of where we are going to go in the future, or a long-term plan for athletic facilities, I don’t think I’d be in favor of spending the $300,000,” he said.
Carter, who is running against Wells for Place 1 on the board, said the money could be put to better use toward academic resources.
“I just can’t see that I’d be for it,” Carter said.
Jones said the district’s use of the stadium meant students would not have to attend games on Thursday nights, which often means they get home past midnight on a school night. She also said the money for the project comes out of KISD’s strategic fund for federal Impact Aid, which provides money for construction, renovation and maintenance of facilities.
“That is where the money is coming from,” Jones said. “It would not be coming out of our allocated money for teachers in the classrooms or anything of that nature.”
Wells, who currently serves as board president, praised Killeen ISD Superintendent Robert Muller, who authorized a comprehensive review of all the district’s facilities.
“It’s not just my decision; it’s the board decision along with the superintendent’s recommendation,” Wells said.
Both Wells and Jones also noted the issue of whether to spend the money on the additions may be a moot point, as the district must negotiate a lease with Fort Hood before the board can vote to approve the project.
Currently, the district operates under a memorandum of understanding with Fort Hood to use the 5,500-seat, $13.5 million facility for games.
The Texas Education Code states that school districts cannot spend funds for renovation of improvements to property they do not own or lease.
“I’m not sure we can get this done by the time that we play football in the fall,” Wells said. “So I’m not sure that it’s going to become an issue because of time restraints.”
Early voting for the school board runs through May 7. The election is May 11.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.