May 17, 2019
Trustees Receive Update on Bond Sale:

During their monthly meeting, the Board of T rustees marked an important milestone in the 2017 bond program as they received an update on a $19,700,000 bond sale, which completes the construction funding for Lake Belton High School and Charter Oak Elementary as well as renovations of two existing facilities.

The $149,700,000 in bonds voters approved in May 2017 has been issued in two phases with the first issuance of $130,000,000 taking place in August 2017. The district’s financial advisor, Jennifer Ritter of Specialized Public Finance, reported that the April 30 competitive bond sale trustees authorized resulted in the district receiving 13 bids and could support lowering the tax rate.

Ritter shared that based on the sale results and higher than expected preliminary taxable assessed valuation growth, the district’s I&S (debt) rate could see as much as a five-cent drop in August 2019 pending certified values and legislative outcomes.

Since 2010, Belton ISD has refunded existing bonds eight times to take advantage of low interest rates. According to district officials, that has saved taxpayers more than $13.2 million in interest payments.

Also, during the meeting, the oath of office was administered to four trustees who were all unopposed in re-election bids seeking terms on the Belton ISD School Board. Sue M. Jordan, Dr. Rosie Montgomery, Jeff Norwood and Manuel Alcozer were all sworn in.
Special Olympics Spring Game :

We’re very proud of our Belton Tigers Special Olympics team who earned 22 medals, including eight first place gold finishes at the Heart of Texas Area Special Olympics Spring Games held at Connally High School. Of the over 20 athletes that practiced in the month leading up to the track and field competitions, 14 student athletes returned to Belton with a medal.
Individual results include:

Inez Aguilar               50M Run: 1st Place                Shot Put: 4th Place
Cole Austin                25M Walk: 2nd Place            Tennis Ball Throw: 3rd Place
Josh Barney                Softball Throw: 2nd Place
Kolbey Brackett          Softball Throw: 3rd Place
Kandis Brashear         50M Run: 2nd Place              Softball Throw: 1st Place
Hunter Busby             50M Run: 1st Place                Shot Put: 4th Place
Maddy Dollar             50M Run: 2nd place              Softball throw: 4th Place
Tre Hearn                   50M Run: 2nd Place              Tennis Ball Throw: 1st Place
Thomas Jageler            100M Run: 2nd Place            Softball Throw: 1st Place
Dylan Jordan              50M Run: 2nd Place              Mini Javelin: 3rd Place
Michael Lunceford     50M Run: 3rd Place               Softball Throw: 1st Place
Kelsie Olsen               50M Run: 3rd Place               Softball Throw: 1st Place
Travis Towne              100M Run: 1st Place             Tennis Ball Throw: 2nd Place
Tristian Villareal         100M Run: 5th Place            Softball Throw: 2nd Place

In addition, student athletes that practiced as a part of the track and field team include: Devlyn Fox-Hawkins, Mario Ortega, Matthew Ortega, Daniel Smith, Logan White, Lexie White and Lindsey White.

Student volunteers that supported these athletes are Cade Elkins, Danielle Graham, Abby Hazlewood, Jack Isaacs, Skyler Isaacs, Liam McCarthy, Kendall Olson and many Belton Tiger Football Athletes. 
The teachers who facilitated these special moments for our students and their families are Erin Allen, Nida Brown, Sabrina Falcon, Laurie Fisher, Kristy Kneeland, Angie Labaj, Lauren Marx, Hayley Stephan, and Felicia Youngblood.
Duke TIP Recognitions:

Duke TIP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving academically gifted and talented students. They work with students, their families, and educators to identify, challenge, engage, and help students reach their highest potential. The organization’s talent search program identifies students based on standardized test scores and invites them to take either the ACT or the SAT as seventh graders. 
This year, 14 Belton ISD students qualified for state recognition by scoring at or above the national average of recent high school graduates on at least one part of the ACT or the SAT. They are Emily Anderson, Wyatt Butler, Lena Cook, Matthew Herrera, Landon Martinson, Noel Paleti, and Tao Wan from Lake Belton Middle School (LBMS); Ashutosh Ghamande, Panya Muringathuparambil, Cole Vance, and Jezabel Vazquez from South Belton Middle School (SBMS); and Shrey Gupta, Erin Hankins, and Diana Williams from North Belton Middle School (NBMS). 
Additionally, three of these students also qualified this year for grand recognition for earning scores that are approximately equal to the 90th national percentile ranks for college-bound seniors taking the tests—that includes about 4% of TIP students.  Of 46,544 students who took the exams through Duke TIP, only 2,421 were invited to the Grand Recognition Ceremony. These students are Landon Martinson and Noel Paleti from LBMS and Jezabel Vazquez from SBMS.
Outstanding Achievement:

Recognizing the need to help middle school level students jump-start their quest toward higher education, the National Junior Honor Society annually honors 500 exceptional members nationwide with their NJHS Outstanding Achievement Award. NBMS students Arpita Lamichhane, Maya Miller, Emma Salazar-Canales and Hayden Ward were selected as a part of this elite group of middle school students and will receive a $500 award placed in a college savings account. NBMS NJHS sponsors are Lori Hobbs, Tab Lloyd and Carolyn Wehring.
History Day Award Winners:

Texas History Day, the state level competition affiliated with the National History Day program, was held in Austin over the last weekend of April. Middle and high school students from Belton ISD earned special awards and placed in the top three projects from across the state.

Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow’s (BNTHS@W) Emma-le Olsen, Gracie Krieg, Jayla Ward, Sylvia Asuncion-Crabb, and Thea Lancaster’s Senior Group Performance called “Josephine Baker: Jazz Cleopatra,” earned the Willie Lee Gray Award for African American History.

In the Senior Individual Exhibit category, Caroline Moehlenbrock’s “Sanctified: The Untold Story of Triumph over Misogyny,” earned a regional award, and Aditi Bhat’s “The Partition of India: Triumph of Independence; Tragedy of Division,” placed 3rd in the state for the Senior Individual Website category.
In the Junior Group Documentary category, NBMS students Kaleice Cain, Hannah Wood, Madison Flor, and Rebekah McGuire placed 3rd for “Before Little Rock: Tragedy in a Small Texas Town.” In addition, this project was recognized by the Texas Historical Research Advisor’s Board with the Best Use of the Texas Archival Collections award.

A project must earn a 1st or 2nd place finish to advance to the National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park in June. SBMS’s Makenna Morrow achieved a 1st place finish for Junior Individual Website with “Finding Family After Slavery.” In addition to advancing to nationals, Makenna earned the Willie Lee Gray Award for African American History.

These achievements represent many months of hard work and dedication by these students and their teacher sponsors: from BNTHS@W Tim Potts, Allison Bradburn, and Veronica Smith; from NBMS, Elizabeth Howson; and from SBMS, Danielle Conner, Kelsey Riegel, and Robyn Burney.
Texas Bioscience Institute Graduates:

Isabella Auker, Jazmin Curley, Dante Denley, Allison Jones, Makenzie Katzer, Kamryn Madden, Kyle Patterson, Kara Paulk, Eric Perrier, Basel Wahab, and Austin Woodard were recognized in a special Silver Cording Ceremony held by Temple College on April 17 for completing dual credit coursework in the Texas Bioscience Institute (TBI) Middle College program. The TBI Middle College program is a partnership with Temple College that allows qualified Belton ISD students to enroll in rigorous STEM-focused dual credit coursework in their junior and senior years of high school. All 11 BHS students have also qualified to receive an associate of arts degree from Temple College this month.
Outstanding Performer:

Belton High School (BHS) senior Mariah Montgomery was honored by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) as an Outstanding Performer at the Texas State Solo-Ensemble Viola Solo Contest. Of the approximately 100,000 students participating in the regional UIL music contests, and the 25,000 musicians who performed at the contest, only 2-3% of the solo performances earned this distinguished honor. BHS Orchestra Director John Fairlie presented Mariah with the UIL’s medal and letter of recognition celebrating this statewide honor at the orchestra banquet.
Band State Solo-Ensemble Contest Qualifiers:

BHS Band will be represented by 26 students at the UIL Texas State Solo-Ensemble Contest at the University of Texas at Austin on June 1. Students earned the opportunity to participate at the state level by receiving a Division 1 “Superior” Rating at the Region 8 Solo-Ensemble Contest in Temple. In addition to receiving the highest rating available, they also had to receive that rating on the most difficult level of music available to them.

Student musicians qualifying for state include: Ethan Autry, Maia Borchardt, Ryan Carpio-Brown, Jazmin Curly, Reagan Day, Michael Eckert, Joshua Fuentes, Clayton Hankins, Nadia Herrera, Alissa Herring, Riley Jones, Joshua Krieg, Jacob Masters, Lily Miller, Abigail Morgan, Carol Paleti, Ella Pusey, Ethan Rasmussen, Ashley Ray, Emily Revis, Andi Sibiya, Jackson Small, Shaniyah Thomas, Trent Ulloa, Zane Williams, Aliya Ziesemer, and Ethan Zornes.
Texas Color Guard Circuit (TCGC) State Qualifiers:

On March 30, the Varsity Guard competed at the Texas Color Guard Circuit State Championships.  The Varsity Guard placed 13th in the state in Scholastic A Classification.  The circuit is comprised of a total of 35 A class groups from across the state, and only the top 50% advance to state each year.  This is the second consecutive year that the Varsity Winter Guard has qualified for state and they moved up from 18th place last year to 13th this season.

State qualifying Winter Guard students include: Sebastian Arismendiz, Melanie Bernacki, Cheyenne Burns, Reagan Hart, Sydney Hart, Stacey Holloway, Maggie Maine, Kailyn Mcgehee, Ashley Minor, Jenifer Mortimer, Haley Musquiz, Alejandra Navarrete, Monique Parr, Alexee Prado, Alissa Roker, Leigha Seward, Tawny Turner and Ashley White.

The guard program had 22 students in 2016, and had never scored high enough to advance to the Texas State Championships. This year, the guard program has 44 students with only 5 seniors graduating, so the future is a bright one!
Future Farmers of America (FFA) State Qualifiers:

Members of the Belton FFA chapter have traveled across the state to compete in Environmental and Natural Resource, Wildlife, Nursery/Landscape, Home Site, Poultry, Horse, Wool and Vet Science Career Development Events. In addition to previous district and area contest achievements, Belton FFA teams earned the distinction of State Qualifier at each event.

Career Development Events (CDEs) build on what is learned in agricultural classes and encourage members to put their knowledge into practice. More than 15,400 students began the statewide tournament in 28 different events which reflect classroom instruction in basic technical, leadership, interpersonal and teamwork skills.

The Belton FFA Wildlife Team of Alex Sottosanti, Lacy Bland, Joseph Knox, and Whitley Jourden were 2nd in District, 3rd in Area and qualified for state after competing on April 23 at the Welder Wildlife Park in Sinton.

On April 25, Belton FFA placed 12th in the State Environmental and Natural Resource Contest held at Tarleton State University. This team had previously qualified as 2nd in District and 2nd in Area. Team members include: Luke Read, Isaac Garner, Julie Johnson, Rina Poff, and Logan Bohler. Also at Tarleton State was Home Site; this team was made up of Sidney Sherwood, Vanessa Ake, Amanda Simpson, and Audry Rall. They were 2nd in District and 4th in Area.

Competing at Texas Tech on April 27 were the horse team of Carley Taylor, Emily Millington, Delani McClanahan, and Claire Kellner, along with the wool team of Amanda Simpson, Audry Rall, Wesley Baker, and Gavin Lee. The horse team was 1st in District, 5th in Area and 17th in State. The wool team was 2nd in District and 2nd in Area.

A team of Belton FFA students also qualified for state at the Nursery/Landscape Career Development Event held at Sam Houston State University on May 3. The team of Sarah Mikeska, Alexa Parr, Addi Ross, and Micah Page had previously achieved 1st in District, 2nd in Area and finished in the top 10 at the state competition.

On April 28, the Belton FFA team of Gwyn Mejia, Gaby Hansen, Celeste August, and Alissa Herring also earned the State Qualifier distinction at the Vet Science Career Development Event. This team had previously achieved a 1st in District and 6th in Area contests. Along with Vet Science at Texas A&M was the Poultry Team. This team was made up of Dylon Carpenter, Dalton Paulson, Jorden Richards, and Thomas Bowman. They were 1st in District and 5th in Area.

Brad Hobbs is the FFA Advisor.  
Big Red Community Partner – Temple Fire & Rescue:

Over the last decade, Belton ISD has maintained a steadfast commitment to addressing student safety and well-being in a comprehensive way that integrates several important elements. Alongside important partners, the District seeks continuous improvement for its emergency preparedness to ensure that students attend school in a safe, secure and inclusive learning environment. Actively involved in both prevention and response measures, Temple Fire & Rescue continues to play an important role in these efforts. As a member of the District’s safety committee, staff from Temple Fire & Rescue serve as an important resource in training and planning for our staff and students, and they support timely and proactive communication practices through their skilled Public Information Officer staff. Beyond their service as a safety resource, Temple Fire & Rescue is often represented at important cultural and community building events in our district such as: Lakewood’s Old Glory Day and Fall Friendzee and Tarver Elementary Career Day, and they have even provided a keynote speaker at the West Belton T.B. Harris Senior Banquet. In recognition of this important ongoing partnership, Temple Fire & Rescue is the Big Red Community Partner for May. 
Superintendent's Report

Summer Programs
While we are finishing this school year, we are preparing for our summer programs, which begin on June 3.

  • Fifth and eighth grade remediation for the Student Success Initiative will be June 10-26, Monday through Thursday.
  • Extended year services for bilingual and special education students will occur in June and July, with special education programs running through July 31.
  • Summer school for acceleration and/or recovery for high school students will be held June 3-20.
  • Our third Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) program will be offered Jun 3-20, for Miller Heights and Southwest students (held at Southwest).
  • Camp Invention will run June 3-7 at New Tech.
  • GT summer camps will be offered June 10-21.
  • Fifth and eighth grade STAAR and EOC retesting will occur during the week of June 24-27, with review sessions being held the week before.

Summer meals are being provided at Miller Heights Elementary and Southwest Elementary as well as at the Belton Christian Youth Center.

Legislative Update
We are nearing the end of the legislative session, and may be getting closer to the approval of a school finance bill. House Bill 3, the foundation for the school finance bill, has some similarities and some major differences between the House and the Senate.

Issues about tax compression and revenue caps, along with teacher pay raises are some of the most important areas of discussion; however, it is a lengthy bill with many program areas addressed from pre-K funding to performance-based bonuses.

The Senate wants a $5,000 across the board pay raise for teachers and librarians (about $4 billion). We would like discretion, as originally proposed by the House, so that we can put money into areas where we most need the resources.

The Senate version does not increase funding for the New Instructional Facilities allotment while the House version increases it from $25 million to $100 million. The Senate also added an amendment to the bill to take away our ability as a District of Innovation to start before the fourth Monday in August.

We expected differences between the House and the Senate. Now the bill goes to a joint committee. We are hopeful that the conference committee agrees on a final version of the bill and meets the deadline to get it to the Governor.

Charter Oak Elementary Open House
Next week, on Thursday May 23, at 6:00 p.m., we are planning on providing students who will be attending Charter Oak, and their families, with an opportunity to tour the new school and meet the teachers and administrators.
Prior to that evening, on Tuesday, May 21, at 9:30, we will offer our elected officials and community leaders, along with the media, an opportunity to tour the school.