The rebuilding of Harker Heights Elementary School was one of the potential construction projects for a new Killeen ISD bond discussed by the bond steering committee this week.

Meeting in the cafeteria of Heights Elementary, committee members heard a presentation that included the option of rebuilding the 55-year-old school, along with Peebles Elementary, at a combined cost of $90 million. Committee members also were presented with a lower-cost option of remodeling the two campuses for about $65 million. Either option would eliminate the portable classrooms at the two campuses, which currently total 22.

District Superintendent John Craft said remodeling the two schools would be difficult to accomplish without significantly disrupting the students’ learning environment.

Harker Heights Elementary has been in operation since 1964 and has been renovated three times.

Peebles has been in operation since 1960; it has been renovated four times

In addition to the Heights and Peebles rebuilds, several other construction projects were presented as options, including three new elementary schools, a new middle school and athletic stadium improvements at Ellison, Harker Heights and Shoemaker high schools.

If all projects were adopted by the committee and approved by the school board, the price tag would be about $343 million, according to district estimates.

In addition the committee heard suggestions of renovations at Ellison High School and Manor Middle School, but neither potential projects had a cost listed.

The three elementary schools on the original proposal have an estimated cost of $42 million each and would each have a capacity of 1,050 students.

The stadium improvements are expected to total around $60 million if approved. The stadium upgrades at the new high school in south Killeen were not included, and Adam Rich, the district’s facilities director, said the district is looking at costs for those upgrades as well.

After Tuesday’s presentation, committee members were asked to register their preferences suggested projects through the use of green, yellow or red dots, with green dots translating into the highest priority and red the lowest.

The Heights and Peebles elementary rebuilding projects received a majority of green dots from steering committee members. By comparison, the projects to simply remodel those campuses received mostly yellow and red dots, and relatively few green ones.

The three new elementary schools and the new middle school received almost exclusively green dots from the committee.

The district currently is spending $426 million approved by voters in May 2018, and the new projects being considered would require another bond, though a final decision has not been made. The bond steering committee would have to present any recommendations to the board of trustees by January and the board would have to approve the recommendation by February in order for the bond to make it onto the May 2020 ballot. Voters would vote to approve or deny the bond at that time.

The next steering committee meeting will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 in the cafeteria of Peebles Elementary School.

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