An update to the potential multi-million dollar bond issue will be given in a regular Killeen ISD Board of Trustees meeting slated for Tuesday evening.
The proposed bond dollar amounts could be as much as $175 million, $350 million, or $500 million. The bond will not be voted on by the board, but rather, KISD Superintendent John Kraft will simply give an update on the issue from past bond steering committee meetings on Nov. 2 and Nov. 9.
To view the board meeting agenda, click here.
KISD officials said with the bond, they were looking at the possibility of adding a new high school, three new elementary schools, a new middle school, and renovating schools older than 50 years old. Officials added the details of the potential bond were currently "general ideas," and the Bond Steering Committee, which is made up members of the public, would recommend in December to the board whether there should be a bond election and what projects should be included in said bond.
The board would then consider the Bond Steering Committee's recommendation and would make a final decision in Feb. 2018, according to KISD.
“The district continues to work hard to provide access to innovative and progressive academic programs. We’ve made good, careful use of the taxpayers’ money and are very proud that we have been able to build new schools and make renovations and repairs at other schools for 15 years with existing funds. We have not had to ask the public to approve a school construction bond issue since 2002, and we have the lowest property tax rate of any school district in the area,” Dr. Craft said in an October press release. “But as our enrollment grows with more and more families coming to KISD for our excellent educational opportunities and resources, we must now seriously consider asking our voters to approve bonds to provide for the construction and renovation of schools and other infrastructure needs.”
Among the items on the agenda that was voted on at the Nov. 14 meeting, however, were the following:
- Considering approval of an agreement with Central Texas College (CTC) to create science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) academies for all Killeen ISD high schools.
- Considering approval of an engineering firm to help lead the replacement of a failing retaining wall at Pershing Park Elementary School.
- Considering the selection of architects and engineers for the construction of a new middle school on Warriors Path in Harker Heights that would begin construction in December 2018 and potentially open by August 2020.
- Considering the approval of expansion of the Killeen ISD Agriculture Science Barn at a cost not to exceed $2,122,884.
The Killeen ISD Board of Trustees, in an unanimous 5-0 vote, approved the STEM program agreement with CTC for all KISD high schools.
According to a KISD press release, the STEM program will allow KISD high school students to earn college credit for free. Under the plan, students can graduate from their respective Killeen ISD high school with up to two years of college credit already completed. The program will reportedly save the students' parents thousands of dollars in college tuition costs, according to the release.
“This is a major expansion of our STEM program, and we are very excited to be able to offer this incredible opportunity to our families,” Killeen ISD Superintendent John Craft said. “Working with our partners at Central Texas College, we’re going to be able to save families huge amounts of money in college tuition costs while offering our students a head start on great careers in STEM fields.”
KISD officials believe the STEM program at the high school level will attract strong interest due to the influx of 800-plus students on a waiting list for the district's existing middle school STEM program.
The board also approved numerous other initiatives proposed at the meeting, including the hiring of an engineering firm to help lead the replacement of a failing retaining wall at Pershing Park Elementary School, the selection of architects and engineers for the construction of a new middle school on Warriors Path in Harker Heights and a new elementary school on Morganite Lane in Killeen.
The elementary school will cost the district an estimated $37 million, and another $54 million for the middle school. Neither project is included in the proposed 2018 bond election discussed to be as high as $500 million, according to KISD officials. KISD said in a press release both schools would be paid for using the district's existing budget for facilities.
The Killeen elementary school is scheduled to open in 2019, and the Harker Heights middle school will open in 2020.