Special to the Journal During a special meeting on Tuesday, the Belton ISD board of trustees unanimously approved an order calling for an almost $174 million bond election to be held on May 7. The proposed projects will be presented to voters in two propositions on the ballot. Proposition A is for $168,825,000 and includes: • Elementary Schools #12 and #13 • Delta Program facility • Expansion of Southwest Elementary • Mechanical, electrical, plumbing, roofing and interior finishes • Campus safety and security updates • Career and Technical Education and fine arts additions at Belton High School and Belton New Tech High @Waskow • Land acquisition for future schools and facilities • Expansion of the fine arts facilities at Lake Belton Middle School • Technology infrastructure upgrades • New buses • Expansion of the district agriculture facility Proposition B is for $5,000,000 and includes: • Technology devices and equipment for students, teachers and staff The board’s decision follows a series of workshops and meetings after a recommendation from the Bond Exploration Committee (BEC), a group of parents, community members and business leaders. The BEC studied current facilities and facility assessments, demographic reports and enrollment projections, financial information, educational programs, and immediate and future needs of the district. The purpose of the Bond Exploration Committee was to provide advisory information to the superintendent on three questions after reviewing detailed information regarding district facilities and operations. Those questions were: Does BISD need to pursue a bond?; If so, when do you recommend?; and If when, what should we include? Demographers from Zonda Education told trustees in October that the district is anticipated to grow by 3,100 students over the next five years and nearly 6,000 students by 2031. One elementary school is already over capacity — Chisholm Trail Elementary — and Tarver Elementary is projected to be over by the fall of 2022. Both campuses are currently utilizing portable buildings. Charter Oak Elementary is projected to be over capacity by 2024. Demographers attribute this growth to a booming housing market — the district has 46 actively building subdivisions with groundwork underway on about 1,975 lots — and the district’s strong reputation as a destination district, somewhere families desire to enroll their children. The Lake Pointe and Lake Point Terrace subdivisions have been driving growth in the northern part of the district, with homes yielding 0.8 students each compared to the average yield of 0.5. But the southside of the district will soon catch up with the development of Hubbard Branch near Miller Heights Elementary and Three Creeks near Chisholm Trail Elementary. By 2051, Belton ISD could have almost 30,000 students if long-term growth continues at a similar rate. “A committee of citizens determined the priorities for Belton ISD,” said Superintendent Matt Smith. “We appreciate our Bond Exploration Committee members for spending almost 30 hours reviewing data to address our growing district, while also considering Belton ISD’s aging and evolving facility needs.” Tax Impact No change to the district’s tax rate for debt service is expected based on current conditions. In August, the board adopted a decrease in the district’s tax rate for the third year in a row. The adopted rate of $1.3571 per $100 assessment included 96.03 cents per $100 assessment for maintenance and operations and 39.68 cents per $100 assessment for debt service. This is almost a penny decrease from last year’s tax rate. Tax rates in the district have declined each of the last three years: • $1.60 in 2018 • $1.4651 in 2019 • $1.3651 in 2020 Citizens can learn more about the propositions during community presentations this spring. The district will update its calendar as presentations are scheduled. Belton ISD residents will have the opportunity to vote on the bond referendum during Early Voting, April 25-May 3, and on Election Day, Saturday, May 7. The last day to register to vote in the election is April 7.