KISD Bond Ushers in a Brighter Future for the District
After experiencing a growth of 14,000 students in 16 years, the Killeen Independent School District (KISD) has received unanimous school board support to add a $426 million bond election to a May 5th ballot. This could not come at a more opportune time for the over-capacity and out of date schools.
Central Texas and Bell County especially have been enjoying a rapid population boom. Homes are being constructed, families are putting down roots, and new businesses are opening their doors. Both long-time and new residents alike are proud to call Central Texas home.
However, with this great increase in our population, the inevitable growing pains are now being felt. One understated concern is the funding of maintenance for existing structures and construction of new buildings for the Killeen Independent School District. Some of our community’s children are attending school in facilities that are over 50 years old and in desperate need of revitalization and repair. Many existing schools are already operating beyond capacity with 290 classrooms held in portable trailers every day.
The influx of new residents is projected to bring KISD student numbers to 44,891 for school year 2018-19. This is a growth of 572 students in just one year. As new families choose to settle with us in this great place, the need for renovation and proper funding is accentuated. Projected growth proves a need for the construction of schools to begin immediately.
“We are continuing to see strong enrollment growth at the secondary level as families move to our community and seek the benefits of an excellent educational system,” KISD Superintendent John Craft reported. “To continue to meet the needs of our students and our community, we must continue to build and improve our school facilities.”
In order to address the issue of funding, Dr. John Craft has proposed a bond program valued at $426 million with two propositions focusing on separate goals. The bond will affect tax payers in Killeen, Harker Heights and Nolanville, setting a new tax rate of $1.11 per $100 of taxable property value for KISD. To put the impact on tax payers in perspective, the average home in KISD, valued at $143,236, would contribute just $14.82 to the District for the year. With this increase in taxes, the KISD tax rate will still be lower than nearly all school districts in Central Texas (and lower even than comparably sized districts within the state).
KISD’s bond was designed in two parts: Proposition A and Proposition B.
Proposition A includes plans for a new Elementary School and High School, as well as a portion of funds earmarked for district-wide upgrades for safety, security, and accessibility for persons with disabilities. Proposition A will partially relieve the over-population of schools and provide a safe environment for all students within the district.
Proposition B will consist of renovations, additions, consolidations, and new construction replacement of unsafe schools. Schools affected by Proposition B include East Ward, West Ward, Pershing Park, Sugar Loaf, Bellaire and Clifton Park Elementary schools as well as Killeen High School. Killeen High School and Clifton Park Elementary will be improved and updated. Also in this proposition are the consolidation of Elementary Schools. East Ward and West Ward will be combined in a new facility constructed on the existing East Ward site. Pershing Park, Sugar Loaf and part of Bellaire will enjoy a new facility constructed on the existing Pershing Park campus.
Tuesday’s unanimous school board decision will open the matter to the public. Tax payers can voice their opinion by voting on the May 5th ballot. If passed, it will provide much-needed relief for the over-burdened schools and assure improvements are made to older facilities to provide opportunities of safe learning for our community’s youth.
Early voting on this important issue will be from Monday, April 23rd to Tuesday, May 1st from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (to exclude weekends). To let your voice be heard, visit the KISD Administration Building, Killeen City Hall, Killeen Community Center, Killeen Lions Park Senior Center, or the Harker Heights City Hall. You may also cast your vote on Election Day, Saturday, May 5th from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at your designated precinct location.
For more information, please visit killeenisdbsc.org.