Published July 24, 2014
By Devin Corbitt, News Editor
Monday’s Belton Independent School Board meeting’s recognitions deviated from the normal student accomplishments and instead highlighted exceptional staff and schools within the district.
First up on the recognitions agenda was Denise Gilbert, a Lake Belton Middle School math teacher and the 2014 Region 12 Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Sparta Elementary School was then identified for its outstanding performance over the past year.
“The Texas Education Agency has designated Sparta Elementary School as a High Performing Rewards School and a High Progress Rewards School,” Public Relations Director Kyle DeBeer said. “These designations were created as part of the condition of the state’s waiver from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, and they replace the previous designation of ‘Distinguished’ schools. High Performing Rewards Elementary Schools are those Title I schools with distinctions based on math and reading performance, and High Progress Rewards Schools are those in the tope 25 percent in annual improvement or top 25 percent of those demonstrating the ability to close performance gaps.”
Jeanette Kelley also appeared before the board to promote Project Apple Tree, a program designed to provide clothing and school supplies to underprivileged students in Belton. This year, BISD schools and departments raised $12,200 for the program, which hopes to aid more than 1,500 students this year.
“Every penny will go to take care of every child,” Kelley said. “In the 14 years that we’ve done this, never has a child not been sponsored. I want to say thank you to BISD and all the schools and all the departments.”
This month’s consent agenda included a $3,000 donation from Leon Heights Parent-Teacher Association and a minor change in the High School Student Handbook allowing facial hair, provided it is neatly kept.
In her Superintendent’s Report, Susan Kincannon informed the board that all construction and maintenance projects were going as scheduled. She also presented a new bell schedule for Belton High School which will allow for extra time between the end of schools and the time buses leave for after-school activities and tutoring.
“All these changes were developed by teacher teams across a period of about four months,” BHS Principal Chris DuBois said. “They solved several challenges and saw new opportunities. I’m impressed.”
The new schedule will run from 8:20 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.
Four administrative positions were recognized at the meeting. Dr. Deanna Lovesmith, formerly the Principal of Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow, will become the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. She will be replaced by Jill Ross, who most recently served as the district’s executive director of special programs overseeing federal programs and special education. Kristopher Hobson was named Principal at Lake Belton Middle School, where he served as an assistant principal for the past three years. Keonna White will become the principal at South Belton Middle School, where she served as an assistant principal for the past two years.
An additional two administrative positions were filled during the past month, as well as 51 other positions. The district currently has 13 positions still available.
The board received an update on the 2014-2015 school year budget. The most notable items include an announcement that meal prices will remain the same this year for most campuses, while two campuses, Southwest Elementary and Miller Heights Elementary, will provide free lunches to all students.
“Because of the high free/reduced count, they can run their program without charging,” Eric Banfield, Executive Director of Financial Services, said.
Banfield also announced that the district’s tax rate should remain close to the same. The budget committee will hold a board meeting on July 29 to discuss exact rates, at which time they will set a public hearing for the proposed tax rate.
Denise Whitley, Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction, also gave a report on summer school, which included credit acceleration, credit recovery, Student Success Initiative (SSI), bilingual classes and G/T enrichment.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Aug. 18 at 5 p.m.