By Kierra Pixler, Managing Editor
Monday morning was the start of a new and exciting school year for parents, students and educators of the Belton Independent School District.
“It was an exciting first day across the district,” Superintendent Susan Kincannon said. “This year we want to continue to focus on connecting with our kids and creating moments that matter as we meet our mission to provide an education that challenges all of our students to excel.
The district’s schools had 11,539 students in attendance on Monday, which was an increase of 406 students over the first day of school last year. The district’s enrollment is expected to increase between the first day of school and the official state count at the end of October. Demographic projections for 2018-2019 indicate that Belton ISD will grow by over 400 students with an expected 11,963 students this year.
In order to meet student achievement objectives and instructional priorities, the BISD school board adopted improvement plans for the district and each campus. The plans, which are required by law, outline strategies and activities for the school year and drive the district’s budget.
There are several common themes among the plans including continued support for advancing top performing students and expanded professional development opportunities for staff. Improvements for safety and security elements are also addressed. During last month’s school board meeting, three new employees were introduced as a part of a the district’s efforts to build upon comprehensive safety and security elements.
“I am proud of the success that we have had in Belton ISD, but we’re not going to be complacent,” Kincannon said. “We are continually looking at how we can improve and better meet the needs of our students. These plans represent a commitment to our mission to provide an education that challenges all of our students to excel in safe, secure and inclusive learning environments.”
Guided by those plans, the board adopted a $100.3 million budget for the district’s general fund. That represents a 1.33 percent increase over the general fund budget for the previous fiscal year.
Salaries account for 80.4 percent of the district’s general fund expenditures. Earlier this year, the board approved a two percent salary increase (based on the midpoint of each salary range) for district employees. New staff members have also been added to support increased student enrollment.
State funding and local property taxes make up the bulk of the general fund revenue. Over time the share of state funding has been declining, and in turn, the share of local funding has increased. That local funding is generated by the district’s maintenance and operations tax rate, which will remain $1.17 per $100 of assessed valuation for 2018-2019. That rate has been stable since voters approved it in a 2008 tax ratification election.
“Our board has been committed to addressing our growth needs in a fiscally responsible way and the adoption of this budget and tax rate continue that,” Board President Mike Cowan said. “When local residents pay their property taxes or vote to approve a bond issue, they’re trusting us to be good stewards of their tax dollars. It’s a responsibility this board takes seriously.”