Going into 2023, some of items paid for by the bond have been completed in both districts. The Keller ISD bond in 2019 was $315 million. For a growing district like NISD, a $737.5 million bond was passed in 2021, and there may be another bond issue on the ballot this spring.
KISD will unveil four new indoor extracurricular buildings at each of the high school campuses. There are also four new KISD elementary schools and the soon-to-be opened Agriscience Learning Center that were part of the bond in Fort Worth.
NISD has enrolled approximately 800-1,200 new students each year for the past 10 years. That equates to the population of a new elementary or middle school each year, according to the district.
Six new buildings were part of NISD’s bond package in 2021. That provided funds for school facilities and capital improvements totaling more than $712.4 million, while the remaining $25.1 million went to technology updates and recreation facility renovations. Four elementary schools will receive facility improvements and Gene Pike Middle School in Fort Worth could open by the 2024-25 school year.
Logan Cundiff has put in a lot of offseason work during his two years as the quarterback for Fossil Ridge High School, a Keller ISD school in Fort Worth. The junior said he went to nearby high schools that had indoor practice facilities due to weather issues.
Soon, he will not need to do that as Fossil Ridge, Timber Creek, Keller and Keller Central high schools will all debut new indoor facilities as soon as this spring. Funding for those facilities come from a $315 bond issue passed in November 2019.
“I’m extremely excited about it,” Cundiff said of the new facility.
“I’m excited to have it at my own school. ..It will be nice when it rains or is cold or really hot, we can utilize it for practice instead of going into a cramped basketball gym and you can’t do much. We can have a full, live practice to make sure we try to get the win on Friday. It will be a game changer.”
The price tag for the four indoor facilities, which is a little more than $48 million when grouped together, is the most expensive of the 11 projects in the district’s 2019 bond.
KISD Athletic Director Eric Persyn noted that in terms of 6A-size schools in North Texas, only Keller ISD and Fort Worth ISD did not have indoor facilities. In the past, Keller ISD teams either had to cancel practices or try to find time in the gymnasium to get work in without such a facility.
All of the indoor facilities had timelines that originally ranged from August 2022 to January 2023, but supply chain delays and other construction issues have pushed back the opening of each. Central and Fossil Ridge both have an estimated completion date of January 2023, according to school officials.
The indoor facilities led to a number of changes at four schools, according to Persyn.
Central lost a baseball and football practice fields for the construction, while Fossil Ridge’s new facility is sitting at the site of the former Heritage Elementary School. Keller High moved its tennis courts across the road for the new facilities. Issues with the ground and thermal energy caused a delay to the start of Timber Creek’s facility.
“They did a great job of building it big enough you can run plays inside,” Fossil Ridge football coach Derek Ramsey said of the facility on his campus. “So many are built that you can do workouts but you
don’t have room to do the work you need to get done and it is a waste of money. The way Keller [ISD] did it, it won’t be a waste.”
The indoor facilities have markings for baseball and softball bases and home plate, soccer markings lines, and the 100-yard football field is also regulation width. There are curtains that can be dropped down, so any combination of sports can practice.
“We are excited to be able to get full, defensive practices and hitting drills with the drop-down cages, even when weather kicks us off our field,” Keller Central Softball Coach Brittany Scarafiotti said.
“During the season, when weather is a factor, we would lose the opportunity to prepare for our next game because we didn’t always have space to get softball work done.”
Persyn, Ramsey and Scarafiotti all said the addition of these indoor facilities will help level the playing field with other 6A schools in the area. It can also be a recruiting tool of sorts when move-in students.
“When parents move to this area, they look at schools and what schools offer,” Persyn said. “If you have a school that doesn’t have a[indoor] facility like this or does not have turf on the fields and
then you walk over and you look at Northwest or Carroll or Grapevine and you go ‘maybe that is where I want to go.’ It is no different than your academic programs or your fine art programs.”
Persyn noted the schools will also have the ability to rent out the indoor facilities for additional income and possibly have them ready to use for college football teams that play in postseason bowl games in Fort Worth.
The bond is also paying for four replacement schools for existing elementary schools: Heritage, Parkview, Whitley Road and Florence. Each of those were built between 1975-1986 and are being replaced for at least $29 million each. There is also a new industrial trades and agriscience school that cost $21 million that was built as part of the bond.
Two of the buildings in the bond—Florence and Heritage elementary schools—opened in August for the 2021-22 school year. Parkview and Whitley Road elementary schools are still under construction but are open. Parkview moved into the new building Jan. 3, while Whitley Road began the 2022-23 school year at the new building.
Portions of the previous schools with the same names remain and are scheduled for demolition. Both elementary schools should be fully operational for the 2023-24 school year, according to district officials. The Agriscience Learning Center on North Beach Street is completed but waiting for occupancy clearance from the city of Fort Worth.
“It’s amazing the amount of space we have, the opportunities for our kids to go into a different learning environment,” Florence Elementary
Principal Jacque Hughes said. “If you compare our old campus to our new campus you can certainly see 21st-century learning comes out to play.”