Special to the Journal
Belton ISD school board members voted unanimously to authorize the purchase of 109 acres near Loop 121 and Shanklin Road in Belton. The cost for the property is $1.529 million, and according to district officials, the site is large enough to accommodate an elementary school and either a middle school or a high school.
Superintendent Susan Kincannon described the purchase as part of a long-term plan to manage fast growth. Belton ISD added more than 3,000 students in the past decade, and that growth is expected to continue into the future. A build-out analysis conducted by the district’s demographer reported that Belton ISD could eventually have more than 28,000 students.
“The analysis also indicated that we could have as many as 8,800 high school students in the future,” Kincannon said. “In 2015, a committee of parents, educators and community members developed recommendations for our long-range facilities plan. That number was a significant part of the conversation. Looking out 20 or 30 years, we realized that the question was less whether Belton ISD would have two comprehensive high schools and more whether we’d have three or more.”
School board president Randy Pittenger said, “We’ve been focused on how much capacity is needed to accommodate our growth through at least 2025, and we have a plan that gets us there. I’m also glad that we’re continuing to look beyond that. This purchase will position Belton ISD to successfully manage our fast growth in decades to come.”
The board has not determined what types of schools might be built on the property, and the upcoming bond election does not include funding to build schools at the site.
In that election on May 6, voters will decide whether or not to issue bonds to fund the construction of a new high school and a new elementary school. During the workshop at this month’s meeting, school board members reviewed preliminary site design concepts for those campuses.
The proposed elementary school would be located near Poison Oak Road and Carriage House Drive in Temple. In the preliminary site design concept, the entrance to the school would face Poison Oak Road, and parents, visitors, staff members and buses would access the school from that road.
The proposed high school would be located near FM 317 and FM 2483 in Temple. In the preliminary site design concept, the school’s entrance would be oriented to FM 2483, and traffic would access the site from that road.
If voters approve issuing bonds to fund the projects, the elementary school will open in 2019 and the high school in 2020. Bhs9, which is currently part of the Belton High School campus, would be repurposed to serve as a middle school again starting in 2020.
Without new facilities, Belton ISD’s elementary and middle schools are projected to be at or near capacity in 2019 and high schools in 2021.