Keller trustees to consider $169.5 million bond package

08/06/2014 4:00 PM

08/06/2014 4:01 PM

Keller school district officials are drawing closer to calling a $169.5 million November bond election to add a career and technical education center, build several more schools and upgrade existing buildings and technology.

Superintendent Randy Reid will hold a Town Hall Meeting at 6 p.m., Aug. 11 at the Keller ISD Education Center, 350 Keller Pkwy., to give details on the proposal to community members.

Several bond committee members and administrators gave a presentation to the board at a July 29 meeting. Trustees, who are expected to vote Aug. 12 on a possible bond election, said they were impressed with the recommended package.

“This is beyond my expectations,” said Trustee Cindy Lotton. “You’ve thought of everything.”

Lotton was encouraged to see the package included the education center, renovations and improvements at several older buildings and improvements to technology and security.

The major components of the plan are a $37.8 million renovation and expansion of South Keller Intermediate School to become the career and technical education center, $74.5 million for three new schools (pre-kindergarten, elementary and fifth- through eighth-grade campuses all slated to be in the southwest part of the district), $23.5 million in improvements to Keller High School and $12.1 million for additions to Parkwood Hill Intermediate and Hillwood Middle schools.

To balance enrollment and provide more pure feeder patterns, officials plan to send all students east of U.S. 377 to Keller High except for those who live in the Whitley Road Elementary attendance zone. Those students would go to Parkwood Hill Intermediate, Hillwood Middle and Central High schools.

Hudson Huff, director of planning and construction, gave more details to trustees on plans for Keller High School. If the bond is approved, enrollment would rise to around 3,000. Huff said that the school has held more than 3,000 students in the past but needed portables and has narrow hallways that create problems during passing periods.

The plan would widen some of the school’s narrow corridors by reorienting and reducing the number of classrooms in those areas. An addition would be needed to make up for the lost classrooms and eliminate the need for portables, Huff said. A new band hall would also be included in the addition while the office would be relocated to the old band hall area just inside the front entrance for better building security. Officials also would upgrade older restrooms and science labs.

Huff said that the price includes construction inflation depending on when the work is expected to be finished. Many of the projects would be scheduled for completion by fall of 2016.

Reid said that the growth in property values, low interest rates and early retirement of older bonds will allow the district to raise bond funds without increasing taxes, already at the 50 cent maximum for bond debt.

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