March 2021
District Continues Preparation for Growing Enrollment with Approval to Purchase Portable Buildings

The Belton ISD Board of Trustees heard a familiar refrain from demographers at its regular meeting Monday — more students are coming to the Big Red Community.

In a bi-annual presentation to the district, Michelle Box from Templeton Demographics told the Board it should be prepared to welcome an additional 3,000 students to the district in the next five years. 

These projections include 5.6% annual growth as the district continues to be one of the only in the state to experience increased enrollment growth during the pandemic, Box said. The booming housing market is also credited with the growth. New home sales in the area, for example, have tripled in the last six years.

At the elementary level, Templeton Demographics estimates an average growth of 366 students per year or 1,800 during the next five years.

Chisholm Trail Elementary and Tarver Elementary are expected to be impacted the most by this accelerated, rapid growth, Box said. District administrators have been assessing strategies on how to best meet student needs during this rapid growth since September.

Michael Morgan, assistant superintendent of operations, proposed a comprehensive plan to address elementary enrollment growth that will include adding additional teachers, closing impacted campuses to new transfers, repurposing existing space at Lakewood Elementary and Sparta Elementary and purchasing portable classrooms. 

Superintendent Matt Smith stressed that portable buildings are a temporary strategy to address the growth and not a long-term solution.

The Board approved the purchase of five portable buildings to be used at Chisholm Trail and Tarver in the 2021-2022 school year. The money will come from surplus funds from the $149.7 million bond voters approved in May 2017.
Student Showcase -
LBHS Choir Soloists
The Student Showcase featured two soloists from Lake Belton High School. Sophomore Karianna Powell and freshman Zachary Reyes performed solos that recently earned them Superior ratings at the UIL Solo and Ensemble contest. Powell qualified to perform at the State contest in May.
Board Recognition -
National Merit Finalists
Mitchell Bonner and Benjamin Broom - both seniors at Belton High School - are among 15,000 high school students nationwide to be selected as finalists for the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Their journey in the competition began when they took the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall of their junior year. This past fall, they were notified they had been named semifinalists. To be selected as a finalist, both young men submitted detailed applications with information about their academic records, school and community activities, leadership characteristics and awards earned. Later this spring, they will learn if they are selected to receive a Merit Scholarship from the organization.
Board Committee Reports

Policy: The policy committee met on March 1 and continued discussions on EIC(LOCAL) and how academic achievement/class ranking impacts a student's learning experience. The committee also reviewed several local policies related to cybersecurity, at-will employees, medical treatment and conduct on school premises.

Facilities: The facilities committee met on March 24. The group heard a spring demographers report from Templeton Demographics and discussed the impact of the February winter weather on Belton ISD facilities.
Board Recognition -
VASE Contest State Qualifiers
Five Belton ISD students are state qualifiers for the Texas Art Associations High School Visual Scholastic Event next month. Only 10% of artwork given Superior ratings at the regional event are also awarded Area medals and advance to the state VASE competition. Advancing students include: Easton Hammond from LBHS; Kaylee Barcley and Kaylee Combest from BHS; and Alice Ramirez and Axel Hernandez from New Tech. The students' art teachers are Mark Graham (BHS) and Emily Simeroth (LBHS).
Superintendent's Report

  • Enrollment Update: The district has 12,830 students as of March 24, which is 24 more than reported at the last Board meeting.
  • Highlights from Smith's month included holding Community Summits as part of the district's work to create a strategic plan and trips to other school districts to observe how they've managed rapid growth.
  • Smith discussed the district's COVID-19 Response Plan and what a transition to Scenario 2 might look like. In Scenario 2, he said, prevention and mitigation strategies will remain a priority, however, some restrictions can be loosened to allow increased access to campuses, higher capacity at events and opportunities for more in-person spring celebrations. Wearing masks inside Belton ISD facilities will still be required. Distancing to the greatest extent possible will still be encouraged as mask breaks and allowances for outdoor activities are made. The decision to transition will be based on the increased availability of vaccinations and a slowed community spread as reflected in Belton ISD active case data. Families will receive communication in advance of any scenario transition.
Board Recognition -
NATA Safe Sports School Award
Belton High School and Lake Belton High School earned the first team Safe Sports School award from the National Athletic Trainer's Association for their commitment to keeping student-athletes safe. School programs must demonstrate their ability to meet an extensive list of standards recommended by the national association to earn this award. Athletic trainers at BHS are Daniel Gibson, Shannon Marek and Montye Sumerall. Athletic trainers at LBHS are Chris Hargrove, Kacee Hill and Trevor Swift.
Board Recognition - SkillsUSA State Qualifiers
Twenty Belton ISD students are headed to the state SkillsUSA Championship in April. These career competition events involve industries in directly evaluating student performance with the goal to keep training relevant to employers' needs.

Students advancing include: Sahian Serrano and Dahkotah Dzierwa in Additive Manufacturing; Efren Vazquez in Automotive Service Technology; Tyler Keener in Commercial Baking; Evan Hall and Joshua Jimenez in Construction Tool ID; Taylor Abar, Nathan Hunt and Genesis Lavallee in Crime Scene Investigation; Clayton Hixson and Francisca Ordonez Lopez in Principles of Engineering/Technology; Kyler Peters in Sheet Metal; and Rayhan Shah, Elijah Preston, Brandon Ware, Matthew Sierras, Chad Robertson, Victor Flores, Kelton McBride and Michael Medlin in Team Works. Sponsors are Michael Carrillo, Pete Giustino, Brian Bownds, Rebeccca Alcozer and Willie Ward.
Board Recognition -
History Fair State Qualifiers
Twenty-three Belton ISD secondary students earned either a first or second place finish at the Texas Regional History Fair recently, securing their ticket to the upcoming state Texas History Day competition.

Students advancing include: Jackson Rahm, Ryan Carpio-Brown and Samuel Foreman from BHS (their project also earned a special award from the Bell County Museum); Corinne Finley from New Tech; Marshall Blazier and Cooper Flory from New Tech; Axel Hernandez from New Tech; Kylah Bergan from New Tech; Alicia Miranda from New Tech; Sam Fothergill, Drew Leinart, Duncan Lancaster and Colter Boethel from New Tech; Jackson Marschall from New Tech; Alyssa Waters and La’Mayia Riggins from New Tech (their project also earned a special award from the Texas German Society - Heart of Texas Chapter); Isabelle Ryals from South Belton Middle School; Jonathon Crow and Dave Apte from North Belton Middle School; Jackson Belobrajdic and Kara Shin from BHS; and Celeste Jones and Caitlyn Stearns from New Tech.

Additionally, New Tech teacher Timothy Potts, who served as a sponsor, was awarded the James M. SoRelle History Department Sweepstakes Award for his students accumulating the most points for their first, second and third place projects across all categories.
Board Recognition - Academic UIL
Congress State Qualifier
Carla Garcia represented Belton Academic UIL at the State Congress Debate competition last month. This is an individual UIL debate contest that models the legislative process of the United States Congress where contestants draft and debate legislation. The Academic UIL debate coach is Wayne Delso.
Consent Agenda Highlights

  • Unaudited financial report for the month ending Feb. 28, 2021
  • RFPs for various instructional materials, supplies, equipment and maintenance/operational services
  • Resolution regarding donation of right of way and slope easement at N. Pea Ridge Road to the City of Temple
  • Superintendent's contract
  • Revisions to EIE(LOCAL): Academic Achievement - Retention and Promotion (2nd Reading)
  • Policy Update 116 Affecting (LOCAL) Policies (2nd Reading) - CQB(LOCAL): Technology Resources-Cybersecurity; DCD(LOCAL): Employment Practices-At-Will Employees; GKA(LOCAL): Community Relations-Conduct on School Premises

To review Belton ISD board meeting agendas and full packet materials, click here.
Board Recognition - National STEM Scholar Program Finalist
Jennifer Snead, a sixth grade science teacher at North Belton Middle School, has been selected as a 2021 National STEM Scholar and will participate in a yearlong program designed to inspire the creativity and passion of middle school science teachers. Mrs. Snead will attend a week-long conference in June hosted by The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science and The Center for Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University.
Board Recognition - National History Day Webinar Series
Belton Middle School eighth grade history teacher Stacey Bovell is one of only 120 teachers nationwide selected for a National History Day (NHD) spring professional development program. The course focuses on using online Library of Congress resources to develop and support historical arguments.