Sixth High School On the Way

KISD breaks ground on High School No. 6
By: Todd Martin
The sound of growth in the form of housing construction echoed across the vacant ground Thursday as community leaders joined a group of middle school students to turn the dirt in anticipation of a new high school in Killeen.
Killeen ISD Superintendent John Craft called it a monumental day to start two-and-a-half years of construction and praised partners in Killeen, Harker Heights and Bell County, as well as elected state leaders and the district’s Board of Trustees.
With shovels, bulldozer and a large, elevated artist’s rendering of High School No. 6 as backdrop, Craft described the planned 432,000-square foot school that would eventually accommodate more than 3,000 students in the fast-growing south end of the district, set to open in 2022.
After listing features of the new school, the superintendent pointed out the Patterson Middle School choir members standing by after performing the National Anthem. “This is really about those students in the dark T-shirts,” he said. “They will be going through the doors of this school soon.”
Patterson eighth-grader Jadis Resendez provided the welcome for the groundbreaking ceremony. She expects to attend the school as a junior and senior.
“Thank you for saying yes to me,” she said to the audience of community leaders near the end of the ceremony.
“Seeing it like this, I’m honored to be here,” 13-year-old Resendez said following the groundbreaking. “I’m so happy for all the kids who will go here. Everything will be new. It will be a fresh start.”
The new school, not yet named, will include 72 regular classrooms, 22 science labs, multiple computer labs, a robotics lab, engineering lab, flexible learning spaces in a large commons area and a media center.
Plans also include a 1,200-seat auditorium and band, choir and orchestra rooms, theater, art set design shop and energy efficiencies such as LED lighting, geothermal HVAC systems and enhanced safety features.
Planning in conjunction with the cities of Killeen and Harker Heights and Bell County includes frontage roadway and walkway construction at the front of the timeline for safety and tax savings.
Board of Trustees President Corbett Lawler said the groundbreaking of the sixth KISD high school continues a long history of growth certain to continue.
In the early days of Killeen’s history, all students attended the Avenue D School downtown. Since the inception of Fort Hood in 1942, the community has built 30 elementary schools, 11 middle schools and now on its way to six high schools.
At each step, Lawler said, school district leaders believed they had a handle on high school growth.

In terms of adding high school space, city and school district leaders adapted to growth with the addition of Rancier Junior High School at 10th and Rancier in 1946 (now KLSS), then the former Fairway Middle School on Whitlow Avenue in 1954 and a decade later the current Killeen High School on 38th Street.
Lawler, a former KHS principal, said the KHS building has seen about seven addition and renovation projects over the years.
In 1978, the community changed dramatically with a second high school, Ellison High School, and once again, many thought high school growth was contained, Lawler said.
In 1994, with both Killeen and Ellison high schools over 3,000 students, KISD opened a pair of ninth-grade centers in the east and west portions of the district, splitting the grade levels and accommodating more growth.
In 2000, the two ninth-grade centers expanded to full high schools and opened as Harker Heights and Shoemaker high schools.
When Lawler began as a board member in 2010, he said discussion was underway regarding the site at Chaparral and Featherline roads and a possible high school around 2016.
Instead, the district opened the Career Center in 2012 and began Early College High School in partnership with Central Texas College in 2015, drawing part of the high school population.
“Every time we thought we got it right,” Lawler said, noting that the district continues to grow at almost 800 students a year. “This is part of what we do. The lovely part is that this community is willingly committed to the future of youngsters.”