By Lindsay Starr Platt, Correspondent
The Board of Trustees of Belton Independent School District met for a regular meeting on Monday night. In addition to the agenda, a board workshop was presented about Belton High School Library Renovation and Digital Learning Lab Projects. The highlight of the workshop was the presentation by Dr. Susan Kincannon, Belton ISD, Superintendent, about 2025 Long-Range Facilities Plan and the future of BISD’s second comprehensive high school.
Presenter, Mike Marrs, architect stated the projects for both the library and digital lab could be completed over the summer break. A projected cost of $15 to $20 per square foot is estimated for the projects. The proposed renovation for the library would be to decrease from 22,000 books to 8,600 books and reduce shelving. The proposed concept is to open up the space in the library and provide several break-out and conference rooms to enhance group and individual study and dialogue. Also to add walk-up and sit-down areas for computers for students own devices.
“We will remove three computer rooms and create an open learning space,” said, Marrs. “And to de-institutionalize the feel and create a post-secondary feel.”
Kincannon, presented “Roadmap to BISD 2025”, the Long-Range Facilities Plan. Kincannon discussed current student capacity and enrollment projections and the second high school projections. The expected enrollment for Belton High School in 2025 is projected at 4,202 students, 6,458 elementary students and 3,208 middle school students. Schools will start reaching student capacity in 2019.
“Called the ‘Roadmap to BISD 2025,’ the plan proposes building a new elementary school and a new, comprehensive high school,” stated, Kyle DeBeer, Director, Communications, BISD. “It would also repurpose Bhs9, which is currently part of the high school campus, to serve as a middle school.”
Belton ISD added 3,500 students over the last decade and is projected to add a similar number in the next ten years. That fast growth is placing a burden on the district’s facilities with elementary campuses expected to be at or near capacity in 2019, middle schools in 2020 and high schools in 2021.
“The word is out that our community is a great place to live and raise a family. That’s bringing more students to our schools,” said, Randy Pittenger, president, Belton ISD Board of Trustees.
The vision is for Belton New Tech @Waskow to stay online and to change the campus code to the same as Belton High School.
“Buildings have a life span, In ten years we will have facilities that will be 70 years old.” commented, Jason Carothers, board member, Belton ISD Board of Trustees. The plans will have to be adopted by the board and voted on by the community before any ground can be broke. A bond election in 2017 could be called for next month by the Trustees to fund the construction of the new facilities. The new elementary school would open in August 2019, Bhs9 would be repurposed back to a middle school in 2021 and the new high school would open in 2021.
“Roadmap to BISD 2025 has a vision to prepare every student to excel in tomorrow’s world,” said, Kincannon. “We have had three years of board study and three years of community listening sessions, when the the Long Range Planning Facilities Committee started in 2015.”
The exact cost for the new high school has been estimated at $145 to $164 million. The debt capacity for the new high school is $130 to $150 million with the current tax rate of $0.27.
“Tonight we had a productive conversation about how to best meet the needs of our students while delivering a great value for our taxpayers. As a board, we’ll carefully consider both of those obligations before we act on Dr. Kincannon’s recommendations next month,” stated, Pittenger. “What is best for the kids is what we need to be about. Maybe we should look at the new high school being smaller, a 4A style. People will choose for different sizes.”
Awards and recognitions were also held during the school board meeting. The Big Red Community Partner award was presented to Attorneys Jeremy Masten and Adam Soorholtz. Temple Rotary Club’s Educator of the Month was Diana Taylor.
BISD Communications Specialist Kristin Gordon was awarded four silver star awards for her three photos and a video, from the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) “Star Awards.” Also, BISD Graphic Designer Katherine Lister-Atmar took home a silver award for her newspaper advertisement promoting the “2014 Meet the Tigers Night.”
Students and staff were also recognized for athletic and academic team accomplishments in district, state and national qualifiers to include: Business Professionals of America National Qualifier, National Merit Scholarship Finalist, Powerlifting State Qualifiers and Medalists, Bell County Youth Fair Award Winners, Temple Daily Telegram Spelling Bee, History Day State Qualifiers and Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE) State Qualifiers.
Texas Association of School Boards recognizes members of the press every year with “Media Honor Roll”. These honorees exceed in the following: make the effort to get to know the superintendent, board president, and the District’s mission and goals; report school news in a manner that is fair, accurate, and balanced; give a high-profile to good news about schools; visit the schools, and maintain a policy of no surprises by sharing information with school representatives.” The following The Belton Journal media members consistently meet these criteria in their interactions with and coverage of Belton ISD: Tony Adams, Sports Editor and David Tuma, Publisher.
Krystal Brodbeck was approved as head volleyball coach for Belton High School. Brodbeck was welcomed by the Trustees and the high school volleyball team for a meet-and-greet following her introduction.
Kincannon reported that grades, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth will be working on STAAR testing this week. The SkillsUSA competition will be attended by the Belton High School team this weekend in Corpus Christi.
The school board also approved ATX Food Truck Builders of Austin to renovate a school bus to a mobile kitchen food truck for BISD. The costs to convert a school bus to a food truck area $99,320 and project will be funded from the School Nutrition Fund Balance. Also, the Belton High School roof project was approved for the ranking of proposals as presented and execute a contract, this project will be funded through Committed Fund Balance.
The board of trustees returned after the closed session of Texas Government Code, Subchapters D and E, and adjourned without comment or action.