School board discusses middle school electives

by / 0 Comments / 223 View / April 9, 2015

By Devin Corbitt, The Belton Journal

Five members of the Boy Scouts of America Belton Troop #117 began the Belton Independent School District (BISD) Board of Trustees meeting on Monday evening with the posting of the colors
and leading the pledges of Allegiance.

The board then recognized a series of students and faculty from throughout the district for their accomplishments during the past month. The first presentation recognized Anna Becker, a sophomore at Belton High School, for winning the local, district and state contests in the Voice of Democracy Program, and audio-essay contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Becker then went on the place 11th in the national competition earlier this month.

The board then commended Alyssa Callin, a student at Belton New Tech High School @ Wascow, for winning the Region 12 Citizen Bee. The contest consists of a timed, multiple-choice exam and oral questions about the United States government, governing documents and citizens. Callin will participate in the state contest next month.

Several students from BISD placed in the top three in their categories in the 2015 Heart of Texas Regional History Fair, including South Belton Middle School students Callie Eaton, Jessica
Bowling, Breanna Batten and McKenzie in the junior group website category; Belton New Tech High School @Waskow students Andy McMahon, Liz Parker and Cameron Brickell in the group
documentary category; Belton High School students Madeline Chaput, Hailey Peace and Olivia Houlden in the group exhibit category; and Tanner Luce in the individual website category.

Continuing with the fine arts theme, the board presented certificates to Patrick Antonelli, Amber Batcha, Abigail Dickson, Elyse Dobos, Kirston Donica, Rivers De La Cruz (two pieces medaled), Sendy Gonzalez, Carolyn Latham, Amberely Malone, Lexie Martin, Kennedy Mayo, Alyssa Merrill, Kaylee Moon (two pieces medaled), Carmen Mosnia (two pieces medaled), Hannah Morehead,
Shiloh Nelson, Ariana Ritcher, Destiny Roberts, Kristen Schiller and Andrew Zavala for receiving medals in the Regional Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE).

In the sports world, both the basketball and powerlifting athletes were presented to the board on Monday. For the basketball team, two boys and five girls were named to the District 12-6A
All-District Basketball Teams. Jackson McGowan was selected for the boys first team, and Jordan Russell received an honorable mention. Cammie Moore was selected for the girls first team while Aubrianna Garcia and Blair Gilbert were chosen for the second team. Lady Tigers McKenzie Robinson and Emily Del Real received honorable mentions.

The Lady Tigers Powerlifters participated in the state meet last month, and Dana Young brought home a second place medal, lifting an impressive 320 lb. squat, 185 lb. bench and 325 lb. deadlift. Braden Martinez also participated in the state meet for the boys’ powerlifing.

Several faculty were also recognized Monday night, including Public Relations Coordinator Kyle DeBeer, Communications specialist Kristin Gorodon and Katherine Lister-Atmar. The trio
received a total of six star awards from the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) for their work during the 2013-2014 school year.

Traci Davis was named the Rotary Educator of the Month by the Temple Rotary Club. She teaches music at Pirtle Elementary School; she has taught at BISD for 28 years and has even composed her own music, which her students have performed.

The board wrapped up this month’s recognitions by commending the entire district as being one of the “Best Communities for Music Education.” The National Association of Music Merchants
(Na.m.M) bestowed this designation upon just 35 districts in Texas and 388 districts in the nation.

The consent agenda, which included a Memorandum of Understanding with Bell County Health District for BISD to serve as a Point of Distribution in the Event of a Public Health
Emergency, was passed unanimously. In her Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Susan Kincannon announced the start of STAAR testing on Monday for all campuses across the district. She requested that visits be kept at a minimum during testing days to help ensure student concentration and success; please check for test dates. Kincannon also updated the board on the progress of the Ag Barn: due to recent rain and ice, the estimated completion date has been moved to May 15.

She then discussed several bills that are currently set to appear before the Texas Legislature during this session, including bills dealing with testing and student discipline. The board then moved on to discuss elective class options on the middle school level. Earlier in the meeting, two parents of middle school students came before the board to give public comments on this issue. They were concerned about a new required class for sixth graders interfering with the students’ elective choices.

In years past, sixth graders have been offered two elective options, which could range anywhere from band to theater to art. However, next year, all sixth graders will be required to take
a multimedia class, which will essentially be a computer literacy class, teaching students topics such as online safety, how to navigate apps used in other classrooms, communication skills
and computer TEKS skills, which the state requires for all middle school students.

In order to accommodate the switch, the district increased the number of Art I and Spanish I classes available to eighth graders, which count for high school credit, as well as moving the Conversational Spanish class to seventh grade and making Gadgets and Gizmos available to sixth and seventh graders, formerly only offered to sixth graders. Seventh graders will still
receive two elective choices, and eighth graders will receive three.

“When our children leave middle school, they will have had six class periods that they can choose whatever they would like to take over the course of three years,” Deanna Lovesmith, Assistant
Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, said. “If any parent has a concern, we certainly will address that.”

Parents who are concerned about their child’s level of class choice can opt out of the class, which will also be offered to seventh and eighth graders for those students who do not take the class their sixth grade year. However, the district strongly encourages all students to take the class to gain the computer and communication skills that will carry over into the rest of their educational career.

“This multimedia course is really a good idea,” School Board President Randy Pittenger said. “As a parent, I’d want my kids in that course.”

Lovesmith then presented a dual credit report for four institutions that currently partner with the district to offer students college credit during their junior and senior years. Texas Bioscience
Institute (TBI), Temple College (TC), the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin currently offer 52 courses covering a variety of subjects, such as Economics, Calculus, Genetics, Biology and English III and IV.

Next year, UMHB will expand its course offerings to juniors, who can apply for admission based on their PSAT scores. TC will also increase tuition rates for the 2015-2016 school year and creating separate “Out-of-District” and “In-Service” areas. This will greatly affect Belton students, who will be considered “Out-of-District.” Tuition will jump from $189 per 3-hour course to $249 per 3-hour course for out-of-district students.

Following the dual credit presentation, the board was given the top three contractor bid options for the Track and Field Project, which will replace Tiger Field’s turf and track surfacing. The board approved the superintendent to move forward in executing a contract with the number one choice, FieldTurf.

The project will cost an estimated $3,150,000 and should be complete before school begins next August. They also approved the superintended to negotiate a contract with Empire Roofing Companies, Inc. to replace the roof and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) units on the Bhs9 building following the March 2014 hailstorm, which caused considerable damage on the already deteriorating roof.

Empire’s bid proposal will cost the district $1,913,041, though approximately $1.3 million will be covered by hail damage insurance. The BISD Board of Trustees will reconvene April 20 at 5 p.m. at the BISD Administration Building, 400 N. Wall Street in Belton.