Keller ISD board approves putting $315 million bond election on November ballot

Keller ISD passed its fiscal year 2019-20 tax rate Aug. 26.

Keller ISD passed its fiscal year 2019-20 tax rate Aug. 26.

Keller ISD’s board of trustees unanimously approved putting a roughly $315 million bond on a November ballot.

The bond was approved at the trustees’ Aug. 12 meeting and includes 11 projects from the district’s long-range facilities plan. The plan includes 66 projects expected to cost more than $1.17 billion in total. They will be worked on over the next decade.

A citizens bond advisory committee met three times over the summer to choose which projects the district should tackle first.

“We felt that these projects would have the most impact on the most students while maintaining fiscal responsibility," said Julie Nors, a KISD parent and member of the committee.

The following projects will be part of the bond:

Whitley Road Elementary School replacement
The school will be rebuilt and designed for 540 students.
Estimated cost: $32.33 million
Proposed completion date: 2022

Florence Elementary School replacement
The school will be rebuilt and designed for 540 students.
Estimated cost: $30.09 million
Proposed completion date: 2021

Parkview Elementary School replacement
The school will be rebuilt and designed for 600 students.
Estimated cost: $33.52 million
Proposed completion date: 2022

Heritage Elementary School replacement
The school will be rebuilt and designed for 540 students.
Estimated cost: $30.09 million
Proposed completion date: 2021

Districtwide safety and security upgrades
Upgraded safety features will be installed at all campuses. The features will include additional security cameras, classroom intercom improvements, access control upgrades, ballistic film and raptor scanner upgrades.
Estimated cost: $19.68 million
Proposed completion date: 2020-21 school year

Districtwide mechanical, electrical and plumbing and life safety upgrades
The initial upgrades will replace heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; fire alarm systems; PA systems; and primary power equipment at Keller High School, Fossil Ridge High School, Bear Creek Intermediate School, Chisholm Trail Intermediate School, Willis Lane Elementary School and North Riverside Elementary School.
Estimated cost: $30.8 million
Proposed completion date: 2021

Districtwide technology upgrades
Every campus will receive upgrades to cabling infrastructure as well as other technology needs.
Estimated cost: $24.33 million
Proposed completion date: 2021

Keller Middle School renovations
The renovations will include additions to the school’s fine arts and athletics areas.
Estimated cost: $25.41 million
Proposed completion date: 2022

Fossil Hill Middle School renovations
The renovations will include fine arts additions and minor renovations to academic spaces.
Estimated cost: $18.32 million
Proposed completion date: 2022

New agricultural science center
The new facility will include a laboratory and shop for students to research and learn about trades such as construction, electrical and plumbing.
Estimated cost: $21.51 million
Proposed completion date: 2023

Indoor extracurricular programs facilities
Indoor facilities for athletics, band, dance and other extracurricular activities will be constructed at each KISD high school. Each facility will include restrooms, 100-year turf fields and equipment for all outdoor sports.
Estimated cost: $48.63
Proposed completion date: 2023

If approved, the $315 million bond will not be issued all at once. KISD Chief Financial Officer Mark Youngs said the district will issue bonds over the next three years as the district prepares to work on each project.

Young said the district could call three more bonds over the next 12 years as needed to fund the remaining projects in the long-range facilities plan. However, Superintendent Rick Westfall said the bonds will not cause the district’s tax rate to rise.

The district advised the citizens bond advisory committee that any bonds issued for the long-range facilities plan must be paid from the interest and sinking portion of the district’s tax rate. The interest and sinking rate makes up $0.34 of Keller ISD’s overall tax rate of $1.51 per $100 valuation. It is used to pay debt, including from bonds used to build and maintain school buildings.

“Part of what the committee is going to have to understand is that anything they create in terms of a priority list has to be within what our current capacity to pay for at the tax rate we currently sit at,” Westfall said in June.

Early voting on the bond will be held Oct. 21-Nov. 1, with the final voting day Nov. 5.

Editorial Intern Luke Schumacher contributed to this report.
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