March 2022
Demographers: Local Economic Growth Continues to Increase Enrollment in Belton ISD
Economic growth in the Temple-Belton area is fueling a hot housing market, and the resulting new housing boom is driving enrollment growth in Belton ISD, demographers told the Belton ISD Board of Trustees on Monday.

In a bi-annual presentation to the district, Bob Templeton of Zonda Education told the Board that with 2,000 home lots available in the district — and 6,380 future lots planned — he projects the district could grow by more than 3,100 in the next five years. Within the next decade, he expects the total enrollment to top 19,000 students, up from today’s count of nearly 13,400.

The district is already feeling the impact of the growth with 780 students added this school year alone. Templeton told trustees to expect the same growth in the fall, with Tarver Elementary and Chisholm Trail Elementary projected to exceed capacity. 

It’s a reality the district has been preparing for and which prompted the Board earlier this year to call for a bond election on May 7. Proposition A of the bond proposal, for $168,835,000, includes the construction of two new elementary schools and an expansion at Southwest Elementary. 
Student Showcase -
High School Art Showcase
Artwork on display at the Board meeting was just a glimpse of what will be displayed later this spring at the annual Big Red Art Show. The event will showcase hundreds of pieces created by students from across the district. Art experiences boost critical thinking, teaching students to take the time to develop creative problem-solving, motor, language and social skills. Since critical thinking is one of our Journey of a Graduate competencies we are looking forward to seeing it represented through these students’ beautiful pieces. 
Board Recognition -
Finalists for the National Merit Scholarship
Matthew Salazar, from Belton High School, and Maheshwari Rajesh, from Belton New Tech @Waskow, are among 15,000 high school students nationwide to be selected as finalists for the 2022 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, both were notified they had been named semifinalists. To be selected as a finalist, Matthew and Maheshwari submitted detailed applications with information about their academic record, 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. After graduating in June, Matthew plans to attend college to study architecture. Maheshwari wants to major in psychology. 
Board Updated on ESSER Fund Plan
The district's chief financial officer, Melissa Lafferty, updated the Board on how Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds are being spent. A use of funds plan was developed last spring, and a stakeholder survey was sent earlier this month that showed 87% of respondents were satisfied with the plan.
Entrepreneurship Program Starting at Lake Belton High School
The Board also heard about an entrepreneurship program launching at Lake Belton High School in the fall. The INCubatoredu program will bring real-world concepts into the classroom by inviting local entrepreneurs to teach business startup skills and mentor students. During the year, students will form teams, create business models for their products and present their work in a competition. 
Board Recognition -
College Board National Recognition Program Scholars
Sixteen Belton ISD students have been named College Board National Recognition Program Scholars for top performances on the Preliminary SAT (PSAT). The students were among the top 2.5 percent of test-takers who identify as one or more of the following: African American, Hispanic American or Latinx, Indigenous or attend school in a rural area or are from a small town. They also had to have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher. These students definitely have empowered futures!

African American Scholars are: Gentile Hirwa Claver and Myles Byars.

Hispanic American Scholars are: Gavin Campbell, Kendall Dollar, Matthew Fulford, Sara Navarro, Sergio Ochoa, Miguel Olvera, Avre Prieto, David Saldana, Matthew Salazar and Miquel Tebo.

Indigenous Scholar is: Gabrielle Benson.

Rural/Small Town Scholars are: Shannon Cook, Madison Dang and Bella Koonce.

This is the second year the College Board has honored students with its recognition program aimed to create pathways to college for students from underrepresented communities. 
Board Committee Reports

Policy: The policy committee did not meet in March. The entire Board met on March 8 for training on policy development and the use and maintenance of the district's policy manual. The training, which was facilitated by a policy consultant from the Texas Association of School Boards, was followed by a special meeting where trustees discussed policy issues identified by an administrator policy review.

Facilities: The facilities committee met on March 23 and heard a preliminary spring demographers report from Zonda Education. The committee also reviewed design options for Elementary School #13 and discussed strategies for opening Elementary School #12 and #13. The committee heard updates on winter storm repairs, the field turf at Tiger Field and the condition of the district's natatorium.
Board Recognition -
VASE Contest State Qualifiers
Seven Belton ISD students are state qualifiers for the Texas Art Association’s High School Visual Arts 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. This recognition highlights their demonstration of several Journey of a Graduate competencies, including adaptability and perseverance.

Advancing students include: TJ Hower, Amalie Dassler, Rose Keys and Rebekah McGraw from LBHS; Axel Hernandez and Jocileen Carrell-Soto from New Tech; and Megan McGoldrick from BHS. The students’ art teachers are Emily Simeroth (LBHS), Jessica Theilacker (BHS) and Megan Fuxa (BHS). 
Superintendent's Report

  • Dr. Smith highlighted several events that have happened in March, including lunch with faith-based community leaders and the Belton Educational Enrichment Foundation's annual golf and tennis tournaments.
  • Dr. Smith also noted that by the end of March, district leaders will have conducted 22 presentations about the 2022 bond proposal.
Board Recognition -
Band Solo/Ensemble State Qualifiers
Eighty high school musicians have advanced to state UIL solo and ensemble contests to be held later this spring. To advance, the musicians had to perform a memorized Class 1 solo or ensemble — the hardest difficulty level — in front of a judge and earn a superior rating. We are proud of how these students demonstrate Journey of a Graduate competencies through their participation in the fine arts.

Thirty-four band students from Belton High School qualified for the state UIL competition to be held at the end of May.

Band musicians qualifying for state are: Brandon Bechtel; Marshall Blazier; Gage Cushman; Michael Summers; Samuel Fothergill; Colby Franklin; Matthew Fulford; John Grant; Tristen Hernandez; Jordan Huscanga; Jennifer Huscanga; Andrew Johnson; Duncan Lancaster; Emily Linklater; Zachary Linklater; Hailey Long; Autumn Madetzke; Timothy McCormick; Matthew Melendez; Grayson Necessary; Kole Petersen; Ethan Rassmusen; Alex Rendon; Blake Rendon; Angel Rios-Torres; Bryanna Santos; Michael Summers; Damien Swift; Ezekiel Trahan; Pablo Ureste; Alyssa Vahrenkamp; Jacob Wiley; Tristen Zikuhr; and Colter Boethel.

Shannon Gill is the director of bands at BHS. Christopher Orr is assistant band director.

Three Lake Belton High School band soloists and three ensembles advanced to the state UIL contest that will be held on May 28 and May 30.
Band soloists advancing are: Josue Martinez; Cahaya Lane; and Victor Rodriguez.

Band ensembles advancing are: the woodwind quintet of Emma Holley, Levi Dale, Jonathan Crow, Cameron Crow; and Olivia Vacula; the euphonium trio of Brianne Sharp, Zach Dodd, and Owen Gersbach; and the percussion ensemble of Halle Curb, Caleb Fowler, Nolan Koloroutis, Abbie Kuykendall, and Ethan Suarez-Camacho.

Bobby Yerigan is the director of bands at LBHS. 
Board Recognition -
Choir Solo/Ensemble State Qualifiers
Eleven choir soloists and two ensembles from Belton High School — for a total of 26 students — qualified for the state UIL competition on May 28.

Choir soloists qualifying for state are: Jason Blattner; Kaydence Doughty; Daniel Holcomb; Jordan Pilgrim; Jackson Reasoner; Salma Sanchez; Maverick Shepherd; Megan Sloane; Grace Taggart; Amy Villanueva; and Nicholas Wagner.

Choir ensemble members qualifying for state are: Mackenzie Bramlett; Kaydence Doughty; Jaden Nonis; Ezekiel Payne; Sunshine Phelps; Grace Taggart; Gavin Young; Karson Dunn; Taegan Hendricks; Daniel Holcomb; Joshua Martinez; Sarah Millington; Jessie Norvell; Jackson Reasoner; and Olivia Stum.

Tonya Lovorn is the head choir director at BHS.

Four Lake Belton High School choir soloists advanced to the state UIL competition. Those advancing are: Aidan Fenton; Zachary Reyes; Anna James; and Jack Tucker.

Terrance Livingston is the head choir director at LBHS. 
Consent Agenda Highlights

  • Unaudited financial report for the month ending Feb. 28, 2022
  • Budget amendment #5 for 2021-2022
  • Memorandum of Understanding with Texas College Bridge for development of college preparatory mathematics and language arts courses
  • Gifts, grants and bequests
  • Expenditures over $50,000 (purchases at Belton New Tech, turn for BHS football field, staff technology devices, classroom furniture sets)
  • Temple ISD Regional Day School program for the deaf shared services arrangement agreement

To review Belton ISD board meeting agendas and full packet materials, click here.
Board Recognition -
VEX Robotics World Championship Qualifier
The Belton High School and Lake Belton High School robotics teams have been showing off their Journey of a Graduate competencies — both teams were invited to the VEX Robotics World Championship to be held in Dallas this May. This competition brings together student-led teams from all over the globe to showcase their game strategy, design and teamwork skills.

The BHS team, named Thunderous, includes: Francisca Ordonez Lopez, Karmanyaah Malhotra, Delilah Rowell, Caleb Packard and Perla Martinez. The team’s advisor is Pietro Giustino.

The LBHS team, called the Broncobotics, includes: Braedyn Brannum, Cahaya Lane, Haeven Holden, Keifer Marshall and Soteria Shin. The team’s advisor is Jessica Persilver.

We appreciate how this Career and Technical Education program allows students to showcase their critical thinking, collaboration and perseverance Journey of a Graduate competencies. 
Board Recognition -
Temple Rotary Club's Educator of the Month
Sherry Heiser is being recognized by the Belton Rotary Club for her outstanding service to Belton ISD. Sherry serves as a special education teacher at North Belton Middle School. She is in her 11th year in education, all of which are with Belton ISD.

Principal Michelle Tish said the following about Ms. Heiser: “Sherry shows compassion, kindness, and joy to students every day. She makes those personal connections, not just with students she's in the classroom helping, but with all students. She is caring, loving, and supportive. She comes to work each day ready to work with students academically, as well as socially and emotionally. Sherry has a huge heart and gives all to her kids, every day. She works so hard to make sure that the teachers and her students have the support they need to be successful in the classroom.” 
Board Recognition -
Texas School Public Relations Association Gold Star Award
The Belton ISD communications department was recognized by the Texas School Public Relations Association with six Gold Star Awards, including Best in Category honors, during the annual conference last month.
TSPRA Star Awards provide annual recognition for outstanding school communication and projects submitted by members. More than Belton ISD submitted 12 entries this year and, in addition to the six Gold Star Awards, won five Silver Star Awards and one Bronze Star Award. Across the state, more than 1,660 samples of work were submitted for Star Awards. The best-of-the-best were identified for recognition in each category.

This recognition highlights Belton ISD’s commitment to attracting, retaining and supporting a world-class team of employees.

The communications department includes Jennifer Bailey, Karen Rudolph, Karley Free and Becca Al-Ahmadi.