By Devin Corbitt, The Belton Journal
The Belton Independent School District Board of Trustees meeting began with a workshop to discuss district finances and planning. During the workshop, Todd Schiller, Executive Director of Human Resources, presented the board with a plan to increase both employee pay and health insurance contributions.
The plan will increase salaries by an average of 3 percent, based on salary range midpoint, for administrators, professionals, paraprofessionals and auxiliary staff. This will cost the district a little over $2 million. The plan also called the district to pay an additional $75 toward employees’ health insurance, raising this from $250 to $325 to help offset rising healthcare costs.
Phil Haggerty then presented the board with an update on the budget process. As of right now, the district plans to hold a public hearing in August to discuss the budget before its final approval.
The workshop also included a discussion of future projects for the district in relation to budgeting. The most expensive items on the identified future projects list include the swim center renovation and Belton High School roof replacement. The list also includes, among other things, renovations to CTE shops (auto tech, welding and construction trades) and additional parking in the Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow and Administration Building area. These projects do not have estimated costs yet.
After a brief closed session, the board went straight into the evening’s recognitions.
Emily Muslovski started the show. Muslovski is a sixth grader at North Belton Middle School and attended a STEM workshop last month at West Point’s military academy. She was one of only 120 students selected nationwide for the workshop.
Next up were the Lady Tigers softball players. They were recognized for their Regional Semifinalsts title with a 21-7 season.
In the same vein, the baseball team was also recognized during the meeting for the Bi-District Championship. The team came away from their season with a 21-9 record.
Two principals were selected as Region 12 Assistant Principals of the Year. Claudia Knox from BHS and Ben Smith from Lake Belton Middle School were both chosen by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) for this honor.
Three area reporters were named to the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Media Honor Roll for the 2014-2015 school year for their “fair, accurate, and balanced reporting” of BISD. Lindsey Hernandez with The Temple Daily Telegram and Tony Adams and Devin Corbitt with The Belton Journal were nominated by BISD for this distinction.
The district itself wrapped up the evening’s recognitions with the Platinum Leadership Circle Award given by the Texas Comptroller’s Office. This award rewards local governments for their online fiscal transparency. BISD was awarded the highest level of distinction for their website, www.bisd.net/transparency.
The board then moved on to the consent agenda. Board president Randy Pittenger requested that two items be pulled from the agenda for more in-depth consideration. The remaining agenda included a $1,860 donation from the BHS Cheer Booster Club, a $10,000 donation from the Sparta PTA and an agreement between the district and the Belton Fire Department to continue teaching a CTE Fire Course. The agenda was approved unanimously.
The first item pulled for consideration was a change to four budget amendments. These amendments did not include spending more money; they were simply moving money from one account to another.
The second item was a series of Dual Credit Memorandums of Understanding for the 2015-2016 school year with Temple College and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. These memorandums will allow BISD’s students to take college-level classes for college credit through local and/or online schools.
In her Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Susan Kincannon updated the board on construction projects, including the near completion of the Ag Barn. Because of several rain delays, the barn will not be dedicated until Sept. 15.
Chemical injections were recently started at Tiger Field in preparation for new turf. Again, due to weather delays, the project is behind schedule. The contractor is still hoping to have the field ready before the first home football game, with Aug. 24 as the new completion date.
The re-roofing project at Bhs9 began last week.
Last month, the district announced that they would offer tuition-supported pre-kindergarten next year. Children of BISD employees were given the first opportunity to register their students before the offer was opened to the public. As of last week, 26 students were registered. Registration is still open.
The board then approved the teaching of traditional moral values throughout the district, including honesty, integrity, respect for human life and an archaic abstinence policy.
Moving on to salaries, the board approved the superintendent’s salary at $185,000 per year. They then unanimously approved the district-wide pay increases discussed in the workshop.
Kincannon recommended the district’s two newest principals to the board. Stacy Cox will serve as Southwest Elementary’s principal. She was formerly an assistant principal at the school in addition to more than 10 years with the district. Julee Manley will serve as the principal at Sparta Elementary after also serving as an assistant principal at that school.
Todd Schiller then introduced Carolyn Poulter, who will take over as CTE Coordinator after serving as a counselor at BHS. The district also hired 41 teachers, two teachers/coaches, one athletic trainer, three diagnosticians, three nurses, one CTE coordinator, one counselor, one instructional technology facilitator, and one elementary curriculum coordinator. Nineteen resignations were accepted this month.
All STAAR test results are now in except for mathematics. The district administered 17,768 STAAR tests this year. Overall, BISD students came in above the state averages on nearly every test, with only a few individual elementary schools falling below the state average in reading and writing. At the middle school level, both writing proved to be the weakest subject across the district. As noted during the meeting, these results cannot be accurately compared to last year’s results, as a completely new group of students was tested this year.
In order to pass onto the next grade level, students in grades 8-12 must complete End of Course (EOC) exams; 801 tests have not been completed yet. Students will be able to retest July 6-10.
Following the STAAR and EOC update, the board unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding with and Funding for the Belton Educational Enrichment Foundation (BEEF) for the upcoming year. BEEF’s provides grants for teachers and scholarships for students to promote education within BISD. Last year, the foundation awarded $51,028.09 in grants and $115,650 for BHS and New Tech graduates.
Coach Patrick Henry presented the board with an update to the swim program during his first year as Head Coach. The swim center currently employs 13 lifeguards, 15 swim instructors and two water aerobics instructors. The BHS swim team consisted of 39 varsity swimmers and 14 junior varsity swimmers. The girls’ team broke 10 of 11 school records, and the boys’ team broke two school records. Both teams were District Champions for the third year in a row. Henry has built a more challenging pre-season meet schedule for next year to push the swimmers to new and better heights.
New to BISD was a club team, which hosts 120 members in four training groups based on age, ability and experience. All members are registered with USA Swimming. The Tiger Shark Swim Club accrued several impressive accomplishments during their first year and brought in nearly $30,000 of profits to the district.
Other activities in the swim center include swim lessons, water aerobics classes and senior swim.
This segued into a discussion about the future of the swim center, which needs renovations, such as a separate coaches’ locker room and office space and concession stands. Low priority items include more storage spaces and additional team locker rooms. The board was presented with several options, which will be reviewed and voted on next month. The recommended option will cost approximately $3.45 million.
BHS will receive a makeover to improve the meal experiences of students and increase the number of students who buy school lunches. The project, which includes consulting with a professional chef, will cost $205,467, taken from the School Nutrition fund balance. Be on the lookout next year!
The BISD Board of Trustees will reconvene on July 20 at 5 p.m. in the Administration Building, 400 North Wall Street in Belton.