STEM Academy and Cyberwolves
Shoemaker High School’s STEM Academy and Cyberwolves robotics team, as well as its robotics classes, showcase robots designed to pick up balls and reposition them at a 2013 Shoemaker event.

The Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees approved an expansion of STEM programming at the high school level during a meeting Tuesday evening.

With board members JoAnn Purser and Susan Jones absent, the board voted unanimously to approve a dual enrollment agreement with Central Texas College.

The agreement covers a high school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program for high schools in the district beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.

Currently Shoemaker High is the only KISD high school offering STEM courses in the district.

The program will allow students to earn college credit for free while they are still in high school.

Under the plan, students could graduate from KISD high schools with up to two years of college credit completed, saving parents across the district thousands of dollars in college tuition costs, according to Terry Abbott, KISD chief communications officer.

“The goal is to try to recruit 500 ninth- and 10th-graders at all four high schools,” said Superintendent John Craft. Calling it unique, exciting and challenging, Craft added, “This wouldn’t be possible without our tremendous partnership with Central Texas College.”

A STEM program is already in place at Roy J. Smith Middle School, as well, with a waiting list of over 800 students.

The board also voted to approve a list of new courses for the 2018-2019 school year, many of which would be part of the high school STEM program.

In other business, the board heard an update on progress being made by the bond steering committee and voted to proceed on a number of multimillion- dollar construction projects.

Craft recapped the committee’s first two meetings, and what will be necessary to reach consensus prior to making a recommendation to the KISD board at its Dec. 12 meeting. The board will need to vote by the Feb. 16 deadline to call for a bond election on the May 5, 2018 ballot.

“The intense dialogue will begin this Thursday,” Craft said. The committee will be putting dollar amounts on the projects, which will be prioritized by weight and ranking systems.

Also Tuesday, the board approved a nearly $2.123 million agriculture science barn expansion project. Existing district funds will pay for the project.

Huckabee Architects handled the design for the agricultural science barn expansion. Cloud Construction Company will serve as construction manager for the project.

The new facility is slated to open for the 2018-2019 school year.

The consent agenda, approved by the KISD board with a single vote, included numerous items. Many of these had been previously discussed at the board’s Oct. 24 workshop.

The selection of Huckabee Architects and various engineers for the construction of a new elementary school on Morganite Lane in Killeen was one of the consent agenda items. The school will open for the 2019-2020 school year and is estimated to cost over $37 million.

Huckabee Architects and related engineers were approved for the new middle school project. The building will be located on Warriors Path in Harker Heights and cost approximately $54 million. The school will open for the 2020-2021 school year.

Construction costs for both schools will be covered by currently available district funds.

The consent agenda vote approved the 2017-2018 KISD Improvement Plan, which contains lists of actions toward achieving goals for students and staff during the school year. The entire document is posted on the KISD website:

Selection of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. as roofing consultant and Estes, McClure & Associates, Inc. as heating and air conditioning (HVAC) engineer was approved as part of the consent agenda vote. These firms will oversee the 20-year lifecycle replacement of roofs and 239 aging, inefficient heating and air conditioning units in the district.

Civil engineer firm Walker Partners Engineering was selected to handle replacement of a crumbling retaining wall at Pershing Park Elementary School. The project will cost approximately $82,500, and be paid for with currently available district funds.

A list of revised district policies was approved on the consent agenda. These revisions bring policies involving instructional resources, methods and materials, curriculum development and design, academic achievement and community relations into line with changes made by the Texas Legislature during their 2017 session.

One of the policies changes the special education video policy in key ways, including reducing the amount of time video recordings are kept by the district from six months to three months,

The board also voted to approve the calendar for the 2018-2019 school year.

Of three options presented by Robin Champagne, assistant superintendent for instructional leadership, the board chose the version which was approved by 2/3 of the teachers.

Megan Bradley, KISD chief financial officer, presented the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) rating report from 2016. The district achieved a score of 100 out of 100 again this year.

In closed session, the KISD board discussed bids received for the former Sallie Mae property in the Killeen Business Park, and the former Fairway Middle School on Whitlow Drive.

The board voted in open session to reject bids on both properties.

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