Katy and Houston News


Katy ISD places $748 million bond on ballot

Katy ISD could see the addition of six new schools, a second district stadium and a slew of major campus renovations in the next five years if voters approve a $748 million bond referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot. 

District administrators saw the need for a bond election primarily to keep up with future growth in the community, Superintendent Alton Frailey said. Demographic firm Population Survey Analysts has projected KISD will grow from 70,000 to 80,000 students by 2018 and 94,000 students by 2023. 

“This bond will address our needs over the next three years,” Frailey said. “We are going to add another 3,000 new students each year, and we have to find a way to accommodate that growth and meet the demand.” 

The bond package 

The KISD board of trustees called for an election Aug. 18 following a recommendation from a 227-member bond committee in July. 

“[The committee] was a diverse group of people with different temperaments, talents and convictions who came together to reach a consensus on the needs for facilities to support the growth coming to Katy,” board President Bryan Michalsky said. 

The recommendation comes less than a year after voters denied a $99 million bond package that would have funded a second stadium and agriculture center. However, committee chairman Keith Carmichael said he believes voters will turn out in favor of the 2014 bond. 

“This bond adds 8,890 classroom seats to Katy ISD to accommodate those new students,” he said. “Because of that, I think people will realize we need to get out and do something.” 

Nearly 50 percent of the bond package would fund the addition of six new schools, including three elementary schools, two junior high schools and one high school. 

Several of the schools—some of which could open by 2016—would be located on the northern side of the district to keep up with future projected student growth. 

“With the Grand Parkway expanded from I-10 to Hwy. 290, that has opened up a whole new mobility option through the northern part of our district,” Michalsky said. “We expect the next big growth [spurt] to come from that area.”

The bond package also calls for several facility expansions, including build-out at the Miller Career and Technology Center and office expansions at five junior high schools. New buses, portables and construction services for the new schools are included as well. 

“I’ve seen Katy grow in leaps and bounds in a way a Taylor High School grad never thought possible,” board member Ashley Vann said. “It shows why my husband and I came back, and this is the one place we decided to raise our family. I think [the bond] will help Katy with our growth.” 

If approved, the bond package could require up to a half-cent property tax increase. A home valued at $200,000 would pay about $10 more a year under this scenario, Frailey said. KISD’s tax rate has remained steady at $1.5266 per $100 of valuation since the 2007-08 school year. 

A second stadium 

Although the 2013 bond that contained provisions for a second stadium failed, the bond committee felt it was necessary to meet the needs of the district, Carmichael said. 

“We’re the only district in the state with seven high schools and one facility,” Frailey said. “We need the extra space for our students to perform, and whether that’s in marching band or on the football field, we need the playing surface.” 

As KISD prepares to add its eighth high school, the district would have to lease facilities from neighboring districts for football games, Carmichael said, and most likely would only be able to use them on Thursday nights. 

“We would have some students going out of district on Thursday night, and it’s difficult when they get home at midnight and have an exam the next day,” he said. “That’s not fair compared to the student who plays on Friday night and got a full night’s rest the night before.” 

In addition to football games, the second stadium could host other events, such as fine arts competitions, soccer playoff games, marching band competitions or various regional and state tournaments, district officials said. 

The 12,000-seat stadium itself is expected to cost $43.6 million. Associated infrastructure, such as a field house and new parking spots, would cost an additional $14 million. The facility would be located on a piece of district-owned land adjacent to Rhodes Stadium and feature a press box, restroom, field house and concessions area. The stadium proposal calls for 2,000 fewer seats than the 2013 referendum. 

“We think this is the size of a stadium that will meet the needs of our district and be something citizens here in Katy will say, ‘They scaled it down and they heard our cry, and this is something we can get behind,’” Carmichael said. 

Major renovations 

Six comprehensive campus renovations are included in the bond package for some of the oldest schools in the district, including 32-year-old Memorial Parkway Junior High. School administrators said many of the campus features, including the stage, lighting, lockers and shape of the classrooms, which have not been updated since 1982, are not conducive for today’s students. 

“I’m not asking for a new campus, I appreciate the history of this campus and the fact that it’s an amazing community,” KISD parent Elizabeth Johnson said. “That being said, when a child’s learning is impacted negatively because they can’t see or because they don’t have enough space, that is not acceptable.” 

Mayde Creek High School, Memorial Parkway Elementary, Cimarron Elementary, Golbow Elementary and Pattison Elementary are set to receive comprehensive renovations as well, but 51 of 58 campuses will see some type of update through this bond. 

“This bond package remodels six existing schools that are 30-plus years old,” Carmichael said. “It goes in and completely remodels and brings them up to a new standard. I think parents in those schools will be excited to see a needed facelift to those buildings that have aged over time.” 

Katy ISD residents can register to vote in the Nov. 4 election through Oct. 6, and early voting runs from Oct. 20–31. 

Source: Community Impact News