Two years after approving $426 million in school bonds, the Killeen Independent School District board of trustees will consider approving a $265 million bond for more schools and upgraded athletic stadiums. If the board approves the bond, it is expected to go on the May 2 ballot, where voters who live in the KISD boundaries will have the final say.
The new $265 million recommendation will be presented to the board Tuesday by the three co-chairs of the bond steering committee. The board can approve the recommendation as is, make changes to the recommendation or decide not to approve the recommendation Tuesday, or wait for a future meeting to make a decision on the recommendation.
The deadline to place the bond on the May 2020 ballot is Feb. 14.
Taina Maya, the district’s spokeswoman, said via email she does not expect the board to take action on the recommendation at Tuesday’s meeting.
Around 60 community members who were part of the bond steering committee voted 50-3 in favor of presenting the $265 million recommendation to the board.
The amount is for building two new elementary schools, the rebuilding of Harker Heights and Peebles Elementary Schools, the renovation of Ellison High School and upgrades to the athletic stadiums at Ellison, Shoemaker and Harker Heights high schools.
The athletic stadium upgrades would have to go on the ballot as a separate issue from the new schools and school renovation. The athletic stadiums would cost taxpayers $56 million under the current recommendation if the recommendation is approved, according to the district’s estimates.
The other projects, in a separate proposition, would cost around $210 million.
The district is planning to build one new elementary school and one new middle school with money from the district’s strategic facilities fund. The two projects will cost the district around $110 million, according to estimates KISD Superintendent John Craft presented to the bond steering committee at the final committee meeting Dec. 17.
Those two projects had been discussed as being paid through bond requested money, making early estimates of the bond over $350 million.
Not coming from bond money are proposed stadium upgrades at the yet-to-be built high school on Chaparral Road, which will be discussed by the board Tuesday. The staff proposes using strategic facilities money to add about $10 million in upgrades.
Comments on the Bond
“I’m very much appreciative of all the bond steering committee members and their work in helping us really dissect a lot of information and engage in conversations to determine ‘how do we best move forward to accommodate both the instructional and extracurricular needs of our students in the future,’” Craft said after the bond steering committee cast votes at its final meeting.
Some members of the bond steering committee had negative comments about how the bond steering committee was handled.
“They steered us to the decision they wanted us to make,” said Philemon Brown, a Harker Heights resident who was part of the bond steering committee. Brown is a pastor at Harker Heights Community Church, and he said he felt like he was used for space to give the district what it wants.
Stan Golaboff of Harker Heights, a member of the bond steering committee, said the committee received no criteria to evaluate or score the district’s proposed projects.
“The only thing they used the committee for was to rank the projects the KISD staff had predetermined as important,” Golaboff said.
Scot Arey is a committee member who has questioned the district’s role in bond steering committee process. In a letter to the editor today, he suggests the bond discussions continue for a year.
“Being deliberate with this second bond is even more essential than the past $426M bond,” Arey said. “A one-year delay allows full public discussion that can build indisputable public consensus for the decade to come.”