Board Approves Bond Program for May 5 Ballot

By: Todd Martin
May 5 election for bond program for new high school,
elementary to relieve crowding; improvements to half-century old campuses

The Killeen ISD school board voted unanimously Tuesday to put on a May 5 ballot a proposed $426 million bond election, consisting of two propositions, to relieve crowded schools, make safety and security upgrades, and improve older campuses.

It will be the first school construction bond election for Killeen ISD in 16 years. In that time since the last bond, KISD has grown by nearly 14,000 students, nearly the size of the entire Waco school district, without asking voters for a new bond program.

On the May 5 ballot, Proposition A will be for $235 million to fund construction of a new high school, a new elementary school and upgrades throughout the district to make schools safer from intruders and hazardous weather conditions and other safety threats, and to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities. Proposition B will be for $191 million for new schools and renovations to improve the 11 KISD campuses that are more than 50 years old.

May 2018 Bond Proposal

Enrollment for the 2018-19 school year at Killeen ISD, the 26th largest school district in Texas, is expected to be nearly 45,000 students, a new record high. Three of KISD's four traditional high schools are already over capacity, and the school district keeps 290 classrooms every day in trailers because the permanent buildings are crowded and over capacity.

The bond program would replace up to 60 of 69 middle school and up to 50 of 59 high school portable classrooms with newly constructed, permanent classrooms.

A bond steering committee, comprised of parents and community members, spent more than a month studying the facilities needs of the district and determining priority projects before recommending to the school board on Dec. 12 that the bond program be placed on the ballot for voter approval. The community steering committee's work came after years of public discussion by Killeen ISD leaders about a possible bond program, and detailed facilities and academic planning that took place over the past several years.

If voters approve the proposed $426 million in bonds, the property taxes for the average home in KISD valued at $143,236 would increase by $14.82 per month. With the tax increase, Killeen ISD's tax rate would still be far lower than that of almost every other school district in the central Texas area and lower than that of similar sized school districts around the state. Property owners age 65 and older would see no tax rate increase at all as a result of the bond issue because property tax rates for those senior citizens are frozen at their current levels.

KISD Property Tax Rates Stay Lower Than Other Districts'

KISD Property Tax Rates

In other business at the Feb. 13 Killeen ISD school board meeting:
  • Twenty high school seniors scheduled to graduate from Killeen ISD schools this spring will share $71,000 in college scholarships under a plan approved by the school board Tuesday. The money comes from Killeen ISD college fund endowments which include the historic Parrie Haynes endowment, established 61 years ago in the name of the famed central Texas cattle rancher. The Haynes endowment will fund two $2,500 scholarships for KISD seniors this year. Husband and wife, Allen and Parrie Haynes, established their cattle ranch in central Texas around the turn of the 20th century. Through hard work and ranch-tough determination, they built a modest cattle empire by saving and living a frugal life, denying themselves luxuries. The result was the largest single ranching operation in this section of Texas. The Haynes were very fond of children, but were childless, so upon her death in 1957, Mrs. Haynes bequeathed $100,000 to the Killeen school district to fund scholarships. Those college opportunities are still being awarded by KISD in her name six decades later, and a KISD elementary school bears her name.
Parrie Haynes
Traditionally, the Parrie Haynes scholarships are awarded to students with "very high academic standing." Recipients of the scholarship this year will be selected from the graduating classes of the current year from Killeen, Ellison, Harker Heights, and Shoemaker high schools. In addition to the Haynes scholarships, the school board is expected to approve Tuesday night, Feb. 13, these scholarships from Killeen ISD endowments: Two $2,500 scholarships from the Franklin & Emily Pratt endowment; Three $4,000 scholarships from the Maude Moore Wood endowment for students in great economic need; 11 $4,000 scholarships from the Ira Cross, Jr. endowment; Two scholarships of $2,500 each from the Amanda Ware endowment, awarded by the head cross country coach of Harker Heights High School each year.
  • The board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Temple College for the Texas Bioscience Institute (TBI) Program for the 2018-2019 School Year for the continuation of students in the TBI program. Tuition and fees will remain unaltered from the current year at $129.00 per semester hour. KISD student enrollment at TBI remains capped at 120 students. The 2017-2018 junior cohort will continue to receive full funding from KISD as outlined in the MOU through their senior year. Any new students entering the program starting in the 2018-2019 school year will receive partial funding ($90 per student credit hour) from KISD. Students beginning the program next year will be responsible for arranging their own transportation.
  • The board approved the proposed design for Elementary School #35. The $37 million school will be built with existing funds (not from the bond) and will open in August 2019. The school site is just west of the southern end of Rosewood Dr. in White Rock Estates, at the intersection of Obsidian Dr. and Morganite Ln.

elementary school 35