Keller district officials explore far-reaching bond plan

05/02/2014 12:00 AM

05/01/2014 7:15 PM

School district officials are exploring a far-reaching plan to get a career and technical education facility and to resolve most of the district’s space needs in a possible November bond package.

At a meeting on Wednesday, school Superintendent Randy Reid offered ideas for bond committee members to consider.

His proposal includes changing South Keller Intermediate School to a career training center, and moving fifth- and sixth-grade students to the adjacent Indian Springs Middle School (with an addition and tweaking of the feeder pattern). The advantages of the site are its central location and room for additions, he said.

Reid also proposed sending all students living east of U.S. 377 to Keller High School, making it by far the district’s largest school with a student population of about 3,300.

“The idea would be to expand and renovate Keller High,” Reid said. “The building already has high needs, and we know we’re going to need to spend some dollars there.”

Reid said the bond package might also include an elementary school west of Interstate 35W near Basswood Boulevard on land the district already owns, a fifth- through eighth-grade campus and a second early learning center.

“We think it could all be done within a $140 million budget,” Reid said. “Once all that is completed, I don’t think we would need to build a new building for growth anytime soon.”

A new intermediate/middle-school campus would help relieve crowding in all the fifth- through eighth-grade schools on the west side of the district, and the Keller Early Learning Center, which opened in 2010, already has space constraints.

Other feeder pattern adjustments could alleviate crowding at Timber Creek High School and shore up enrollment at Central High School, which would lose about 600 students who live east of 377.

Because of growth in the district’s tax valuations, low interest rates and debt repayment, the district can raise $140 million without increasing the tax rate, already at the 50 cent cap for bond debt.

“This, to me, makes the most sense,” said Beverly Dixon, a bond committee member and Keller parent. “It looks at the big picture, and I think it addresses a lot of needs.”

Bob Apetz, a Fort Worth resident and bond committee member who served as a trustee for nine years, said that he first thought the plan might be too complex for one bond package but that as he listened to Reid’s explanation, he began to see the advantages.

“I think it probably does the most good for the district right now,” Apetz said.

Board member Karina Davis said she was impressed with the proposal. “It’s doing the most we can with every penny,” she said.

To call a November bond election, trustees need to approve a package by Aug. 18. Reid said he would like the bond advisory committee to complete its proposal by late June.

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