Upgrades to the Killeen Independent School District’s athletic stadiums at Ellison, Shoemaker and Harker Heights high schools were included in a bond recommendation that will go forward to the board of trustees in January.
The bond proposition that includes upgrades to the athletic stadiums at Ellison, Harker Heights and Shoemaker high schools will cost taxpayers around $56 million, according to the district’s estimates.
There was clear dispute about the upgrades to the stadiums during previous meetings when the committee would put dots on the projects to prioritize them. The committee was split nearly 50/50. However, when the committee voted at Tuesday’s meeting, they were nearly 80% in favor of the upgrades at the stadiums.
In addition to requesting additional money for stadiums, the district plans to take $10 million from its building fund to build the athletic stadium at the new high school in south Killeen to the same level as the potential upgrades at the other three high schools.
Stanley Golaboff, a member of the bond steering committee who could not attend the fourth and final meeting, spoke about the decision to upgrade the stadiums.
“The stadium package makes no sense,” Golaboff said. “It only cost $50 million to build a second Buckley. Why would we spend $60 million to upgrade three stadiums and another $10 million to upgrade high school #6? That doesn’t make much financial sense. Also, if it only costs $10 million to upgrade high school #6 stadium to an acceptable 6A school and the planned stadium is similar to the existing fields at Ellison, Shoemaker and Harker Heights, why is it costing $60 million to upgrade Ellison, Shoemaker and Harker Heights? It should cost about $30 million instead.”
KISD spokeswoman Taina Maya said in an email: “There is already money in the base bid for a 1,600 (capacity) stadium at High School #6, so the additional $10 mm would be used to upgrade the stadium.”
“Also since it has not been built yet we don’t have to do as much work as we do with the renovations. The scope of work for the 3 renovations includes demolition of existing bleachers, relocation of light posts and ADA upgrades among other things.”
In addition to the $10 million for stadiums, the building fund will also be used for two school construction projects that had been part of the bond.
A new elementary school and a new middle school will cost the district around $109 million, according to John Craft, the district’s superintendent at the bond meeting Tuesday.
Those projects will deplete the strategic facilities fund, which has drawn money from federal Impact Aid. That aid will be coming in smaller doses and is expected to be cut in half over the next few years.
According to the district’s presentation from the meeting, the district will have around $118 million in its strategic facilities fund in fiscal year 2021-2022. That is the amount of money that will be in the strategic facilities fund after all of the 2018 bond funds are expended, according to Megan Bradley, the district’s chief financial officer.
2020 BOND PROPOSAL
The new bond proposal will total $265 million over at least two different propositions.
The first proposition in the recommendation that will be presented to the board will include two new elementary schools, the rebuilding of Harker Heights and Peebles elementary schools and the renovation of Ellison High School. That proposition totals around $209 million, according to the district’s estimates.
This bond proposal comes two years after two bonds totaling $426 million were approved by voters. Discussions about whether to build a new stadium were also included in the lead up to the 2018 bond but they were scrapped by the bond steering committee.
Bond steering committee chairmen Brenda Coley, Bill Kliewer and Hal Schiffman now have to present the plan to the KISD Board of Trustees at the Jan. 14 meeting. If the board approves a bond measure, their version of the measure would then go before voters who live in the district in May 2020.
The board would have until Feb. 14 to place the bond on the election ballot for May 2020.