By Devin Corbitt
The Belton Journal
The board announced a series of community listening sessions to discuss the district’s fast-growing student enrollment. The sessions will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 23 in the commons at Belton High School, 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at North Belton Middle School and 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at South Belton Middle School. The district currently has 10,565 students enrolled, and demographers expect the district to reach as many as 14,173 by the 2024-2025 school year.
Once again, recognitions topped the Belton Independent School District Board of Trustee’s agenda on Monday night.
Among the honorees were the Marching 100 for their first, second and third place wins at recent competitions; seven students who received commendation letters from the National Merit Scholarship Program, including Jessica Bonner, Kevin Hauger, Samantha Kagel, Nishanth Lavendra, and Chad Wallace from Belton High School and Caleb Cable and Alyssa Callin from Belton New Tech High School @Waskow; junior Christina Gaw, who was named to the 2013-2014 All-State Journalism Staff with only 55 other students across the state; the League of United Latin American Citizens Council’s 15 outstanding Hispanic educators from BISD; Helping Hands Ministry for their selection as the 2014 Outstanding Community Organization of the Year by t he Texas Homeless Network; and the Temple Rotary Club’s Educator of the Month Ryan Young.
Belton ISD bus driver Ron Parker was also recognized before the board. Parker was transporting the BHS girls cross country team to a meet in Giddings Sept. 26 when his bus hit a horse on Hwy 36. Parker kept the bus under control despite the accident and safely delivered the athletes to their meet. He has driven a BISD bus for six years.
“I appreciate this recognition, I really do. I love the kids; I don’t want to hurt anybody. Somebody put on Facebook, ‘How do you hit a horse?’ Two things: you hold that steering wheel steady and you don’t swerve. I’d like to recognize the buses that y’all buy for this school district; they’re built like cages. Those buses will hold up to a whole lot. And I would like to recognize my boss, Jackie Fields. I’ve been under a lot of bosses in my life, but that is one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever been under. She loves everybody, and she’s as fair as they come.”
A public hearing on the 2014 Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) Report followed these recognitions, and Executive Director of Financial Services Ed Banfield led the board through a summary of the report. The ratings of each school district are based on staff, student and financial data in order to ensure that schools’ finances are managed properly. BISD received the highest rating of “Superior Achievement” for 2014.
In her Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Susan Kincannon touched on a health advisory update, her experience with the Lamar University Superintendent Academy, construction and maintenance projects, enrollment and the upcoming public listening sessions.
Three campuses were closed last Thursday and Friday to clean the schools following reports of two students’ exposure to the Ebola virus. A hazardous materials cleaning crew cleaned Sparta Elementary and North Belton Middle School, and the BISD custodial staff cleaned the Belton Early Childhood School on Friday. All schools reopened Monday.
The district also announced the hiring of Jessica Costine as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology and Michael Eubanks as a Music Teacher at Chisholm Trail Elementary School. They also accepted the resignations of NBMS PE Coach Pamela Ernest and Director of Transportation Jacqueline Fields.
The board wrapped up the meeting with a report from board member Dr. Rosie Montgomery from her meeting with the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). She reported a successful meeting that included focusing their talking points they will present before the Texas Legislature, including providing adequate funding and local control for Texas schools.
The next meeting of the school board will take place Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. in the BISD Administrative Building, 400 N. Wall St. in Belton.