As growth slows, Keller ISD planning facility upgrades, rebuilds over next decade

Keller ISD earned a B rating while Northwest ISD was given an A grade in accountability ratings by the Texas Education Agency.

Keller ISD earned a B rating while Northwest ISD was given an A grade in accountability ratings by the Texas Education Agency.

Image description
KRN-2019-06-1-1
Image description
KRN-2019-06-19-1
Keller ISD is working on a 10-year facilities plan it says will improve the way students learn for decades to come.

Unlike neighboring Northwest ISD, which is only 27% built-out and still growing, KISD’s growth has slowed to 150 to 200 new students per year. Because of the slowdown, district officials do not see a need to construct new schools.

Instead, KISD’s newly approved long-range facilities plan is an effort to replace and improve the district’s existing buildings.

The district’s board of trustees voted May 13 to approve a long-range facilities plan and appoint a citizens bond advisory committee. The advisory committee met for the first time on June 13 and will meet over the next few months to discuss the plan and how to fund it.

Early estimates from KISD and architecture firm VLK Architects show 66 projects outlined in the plan that could cost more than $1 billion, accounting for inflation over 10 years.

Projects include technology, safety and security upgrades across all of the district’s campuses and facilities as well as improvements and renovations at schools, athletic complexes, fine arts spaces and KISD’s administration center.

Foundations of the plan

While KISD’s growth has slowed,  many of the district’s buildings are aging and need upgrades. Four of its elementary schools, which were built between 1975 and 1986, may need to be rebuilt.

With those factors in mind, KISD began working in October with VLK Architects to assess some of the construction and improvement needs across the district.

In December, district officials also began meeting with more than 260 KISD administrators, teachers, parents and community members to gather input on possible improvements.

Over five months, subcommittees focused on district needs in areas such as alternative education, fine arts, building maintenance, special education, curriculum and instruction, safety and security, and athletics.

Rusty Fuller is a Fort Worth resident who lives within the district and served on a subcommittee for alternative education. He sees rebuilding some of the district’s older schools as a top priority.

“They’re so old that they don’t facilitate forward-looking learning opportunities,” Fuller said.

The subcommittee recommendations were forwarded to the long-range facilities plan committee. Projects were evaluated based on several factors, including the condition of the facilities and how many students would be affected.

One of the top priorities is whether KISD’s older facilities need major renovations or must be completely rebuilt.

“When you start evaluating the programs and space needs that we have, our older buildings don’t accommodate for a number of needs,” said Hudson Huff, executive director of facility services for KISD.

The citizens advisory committee is now evaluating which projects in the plan to tackle first.

Though the district expects to implement the projects over the next 10 years, KISD Superintendent Rick Westfall said the long-range facilities plan will remain fluid. KISD can update the plan as needed, he said.

Paying for the plan

Because the district is still evaluating when and how the projects could be done, it does not know exactly how much they might cost. An early estimate in the long-range facilities plan shows all of the identified projects could cost around $1.18 billion. That number is adjusted to predict inflation over the next 10 years.

The district will likely use bonds to fund the projects, but Westfall said issuing bonds would not cause KISD’s tax rate to rise.

The district has 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 KISD’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.

All projects and funding must also be approved by the district’s board of trustees before work can begin.

Benefiting KISD

Changes made through the long-range facilities plan are expected to benefit teachers and students with inviting learning spaces, Westfall said. The projects will also allow district programs to grow as more students show interest.

“People like to go to work or go to school where it’s a nice environment, where it’s welcoming,” Westfall added. “There are things you have to do to be able to create those new environments for education. That’s where the teachers and students can then expand what they’re already trying to accomplish.”
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

(Courtesy Vault Coffee)
Vault Coffee to open soon at the Oak St Food & Brew food hall in Roanoke

Vault Coffee is planning for a Nov. 19 opening at 206 N. Oak St., Roanoke.

(Courtesy StretchLab)
StretchLab now offering services in Keller

StretchLab officially opened Nov. 1 at 1411 Keller Parkway, Ste. 600, Keller.

clients participate in a group rowing workout
Row House in Keller now slated to open in early December

Row House is now scheduled to open Dec. 5 at 1411 Keller Parkway, Ste. 700, Keller.

red-light camera
Fort Worth estimates $3.7 million loss with official termination of red-light cameras

Fort Worth’s red-light cameras were officially eliminated by City Council at its Nov. 12 meeting.

(Courtesy Hotworx)
Hotworx adding to Fort Worth's workout options with new location

Hotworx will open in early 2020 at 2601 Heritage Trace Parkway, Fort Worth.

(Courtesy Wingstop)
Wingstop anticipating 2020 opening for Fort Worth restaurant

Wingstop is slated to open in February 2020 at 12400 Timberland Blvd., Fort Worth.

Roanoke hotel to complete upgrades soon

Comfort Suites Hotel in Roanoke is expected to finish renovations by 2020.

(Courtesy Lisa Rutledge)
New meeting and event venue opens in Keller

The Suites of Keller Conference Center is open for use at 1211 S. Main St., Ste 400, Keller.

(Renee Yan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Roanoke City Council approves resolution, intends to issue bonds for Peabody Hotel and Convention Center

Roanoke City Council is taking a step closer to bringing a major project to fruition.

(Courtesy The Pink Cockatoo)
The Pink Cockatoo to offer shopping, retail options in Roanoke

The new retail space is expected to open in mid-December.

Northwest ISD board of trustees receives update on facilities planning for potential bond election in 2020

The possibility of a 2020 bond election loomed over discussions at the Nov. 11 Northwest ISD board of trustees meeting.

(Courtesy Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation - Keller, TX)
Local high school student making strides to bring memorial monument to Keller

As communities honor the veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces, Keller High School freshman Erin Stillinger is also inviting local residents to help recognize the families of fallen service members.

Back to top