Spring, Texas – May 14th, 2015: One key driving force behind the growth the Klein Independent School District is experiencing is the construction of the Exxon Mobil Corp. campus in northern Harris County.
Jim Cain, Klein ISD superintendent, said Noble Energy, Baker Hughes and Southwest Energy have opened shop and this has also led to more kids enrolling in the schools.
He said businesses are opening their doors, which means more people will be going and coming. He said with a rise in employers, the amount of families also rise.
Cain said the demographics are showing that the school district will have 13,000 more children over the subsequent 10 years, making it the 10th rapid growing Texas school district.
Associate Superintendent of Facility and School Services Robert Robertson said this translates to up to 1,500 students will enter the district every year.
He said every campus has student capacity – 3,500 for high school level, 1,350 for intermedial school level and 940 students for elementary school level. When these kids come in, the schools will quickly fill up.
With the expected student growth, the district is asking for a 10-cent tax rate increase for certain numbers of years. Cain said a home valued $156,000 would see a $13 increase in taxes for each month.
He also said the tax rate was reduced in the last two years by five percent.
In 2008, Klein ISD had its last bond election, which was for $646.9 million and anticipated for four years. However, the district was able to stretch it out a little longer. Cain said some of those funds were still leftover so this allowed them to change the timeline.
He said the district spends its time looking at its needs and makes adjustments to projects as needed. Cain said shortly after the May 2008 bond passage, the economy went haywire. He said the district revised the bond to ensure the funding was used appropriately in the face of the economic climate.
He said two elementary schools were created due to the last bond. French Elementary School’s doors will open in 2015. The other elementary school, which is slated to open in fall 2016 will be in the Willow Lake Village subdivision.
Of course, with more people anticipated to move into the area, the district needs more schools to handle the onslaught as well as renovations to deal with the wear and tear.
Klein ISD set up a bond steering committee last year, which involves administrators, educators, high school students and community members. The committee, which started in the fall and are open for the public to participate in, will determine what priorities will need and get funding.
How The Funding Will Be Distributed
The Klein ISD board of trustees followed the suggestions of the committee and approved the bond referendum for May 9 during its Jan. 12 meeting. The recommendations that were made include:
Setting back $283.64 million for the district’s growth – for the High School No. 5, Intermediate No. 10 and Elementary No. 33 and the new early childhood education center. Funds have been slated for a gymnasium, an agriculture building, more parking and various other facilities. It’s also going to be used for land that’s needed for future sites.
Cain said the campuses already in operation are in need of repairs; $136.5 million of the bond has been reserved for these upgrades. Security enhancements make up $18.7 million of the bond; technology upgrades are roughly $51.3 million, and $7.89 million for the district’s buses, which are necessary to handle the influx of students and bus replacement.
Robertson said the firm Population and Survey Analysts have assisted the district to stay on top of the growing population by providing it with regular demographic studies. He said the district does this on an annual basis because the growth rate is extremely high. Robertson said the reports let the district know what areas are growing and where developers are currently working.
He said the demographic information lets them know where property needs to be purchased and what kinds of schools should be built. Robertson said land location for new campuses takes patience, which is why they must think carefully about big purchases.
He also noted that available land is scarce, causing prices to go up. He noted the Grand Parkway as an example of the price increase.
Growth is managed with temporary buildings, and when schools close in on the 120 percent capacity, a new campus is often constructed, which must be safe, energy efficient and can handle new technology. Robertson said energy efficient options include replacing roofs with cool surfaces that’ll reflect the heat.
He said controlling these bills allows the district to spend more on the students.
Robertson said safety upgrades include more lock-down options, changing main entrances and improving security cameras.
He said the fast-changing technology needs means the district must improve its infrastructure, ensuring facilities can support what the instruction and curriculum department want. After all, students don’t sit in front of a chalkboard anymore, he said. Those days are gone!