With a possible bond election on the horizon in May 2015, community members in Klein ISD have provided input on the future of the district on everything from athletics and fine arts programs to how to handle overcrowding at schools.
Dozens of parents, faculty and stakeholders attended a futures conference May 7 at the Klein ISD Multipurpose Center. The conference was the second of two meetings in as many days to gather data from the community. David Sturtz, project director for consulting firm DeJong-Richter, said the information will be integral to developing an educational framework for the district's future plan.
"We'll look at feedback you provide for possible solutions to possible challenges," Sturtz said.
Attendees in small groups addressed several education challenges facing the school district and data was recorded based on their decisions. Attendees felt new construction, and renovations and additions to existing schools were the best ways to address overcrowding at elementary, intermediate and high schools.
In addition to several other issues, participants showed overwhelming support of career technology education programs and emphasized the need to prepare students after graduation. Regarding fine arts and athletic programs, the majority of the groups believed the space and time required for each team and the costs for the programs were among the most significant challenges.
Sturtz said DeJong-Richter and Jacobs Engineering have already gathered some data for the district's future plan. The firms began working on developing strategic visioning and determining district standards from January through April. With the results from the data already gathered and with data from the futures conferences, he said the firms will develop a list of potential options in July.
A steering committee, comprised of local stakeholders, will begin reviewing those options in August through November to narrow them down. The public will have another opportunity to provide input through a series of public meetings in October, Sturtz said. Community members will be able to answer questions on the possible options for the district's future.
The firms will develop a list of final recommendations and present them to the Klein ISD board of trustees in December for approval. The board can decide on whether to call a bond election in January 2015. If approved by the board, an election on a bond referendum could be held in May.
Superintendent Jim Cain said a bond referendum in 2015 could be necessary because of growth across the district.
"It's all based upon growth, student enrollment growth," Cain said. "Our demographer tells us we can expect anywhere from 1,200 to 1,600 more students every year for the next 10 years."
A bond referendum in 2015 could help fund High School No. 5 as well as an intermediate school, at least one elementary school and other improvements across the district. Although the tax rate would likely increase following the passage of a bond election in 2015, Cain said the district lowered the tax rate this year and could lower the tax rate again the following year.
"I think there's a very significant chance we'll be able to reduce the tax rate once again," he said.
Klein ISD has successfully passed nine bond elections since 1971. The last bond election, approved in 2008, provided $646.9 million in bond money that funded several new schools, renovations, technological, safety and transportation improvements.
For more information on the district or a possible bond election in 2015, visit www.kleinisd.net.