Keller voters asked to OK $315 million for new schools, security, athletic fields

Keller school officials are asking voters to sign off on a $315 million bond program that would improve all 42 campuses, and add indoor athletic fields at each of the four high schools.

This “recommendation sets the District on the path of addressing our long-range facility needs,” Keller school board President Cindy Lotton said in a statement. The proposal will be on the Nov. 5 ballot. Early voting starts Oct. 21.

The proposed bond program includes replacing four of the oldest elementary schools (Florence, Heritage, Parkview and Whitley Road); upgrading security, technology and life security efforts throughout the district; renovating two of the oldest middle schools (Fossil Hill and Keller); building an industrial trades and agriscience center; and creating indoor athletic fields at each high school.

Some question whether the bond program asks for too much.

“I’m sure some of the projects in this proposal are necessary upgrades, but let’s face it — some of them are just wish list items that are not necessary or relevant to the quality education of children,” wrote Fran Rhodes in Empower Texans’ Texas Scorecard.

“Is it really necessary to completely rebuild four elementary schools? While trades and agri-sciences are great things to be teaching, do we really need a whole new building for it? Do we really need FOUR NEW indoor athletic fields?”

Keller voters in in 2014 approved a $169.5 million bond program to build schools and renovate others.

And in 2008, they approved $142.3 million for new schools and to update technology and security. But voters that year rejected a separate, $25.6 million plan to build a second football stadium.

This year, all items are covered in one bond proposal.

The list of projects came from planning and residents committees that worked for months, school officials said.

They took a long-range plan that included 66 projects at a cost of $1.17 billion and pared it to 11 projects.

School officials say the bond does not require a tax rate increase.

Even so, property values in the Keller school district continue to grow, so tax bills may go up as a result of that.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.