Special to the Journal
The committee tasked with developing new attendance boundary maps for consideration by the Belton ISD Board of Trustees concluded their work on Monday evening.
Belton ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon noted that since the committee’s previous meeting October 22, 2018, the staff of Southwest Elementary and South Belton Middle School expressed concerns regarding the middle school boundaries for Southwest Elementary students. Under both Map Set A and Map Set E, students were proposed to have attended the new Belton Middle School.
Working with the district’s demographer, Templeton Demographics, two options to address the concern were developed and presented during the three public forums which were conducted during December. In addition, the Board of Trustees had an opportunity to review those options at the December 2018 Regular meeting.
Michelle Box of Templeton Demographics reviewed middle school boundary options for Southwest Elementary students with the committee and provided a summary of the feedback received during the public forums. She also summarized the differences between Map Set A and Map Set E highlighting the pros and cons of each plan.
Following Templeton Demographics presentation, Kincannon endorsed a plan that has Southwest Elementary students attend South Belton Middle School and Miller Heights Elementary students attend Belton Middle School.
Kincannon told the committee that the Administration recommends Map Set A as the best overall plan for the district. “Map Set A provides attendance boundaries that last longer,” Kincannon said. “The plan keeps subdivisions together to the greatest extent possible, it makes the best use of our buildings to reduce overcrowding, and it facilitates the most efficient transportation routes for us.”
“Map Set A keeps seven of our nine elementary schools together when they go to middle school, and that is pretty unusual given the size of our school district,” Kincannon said. She explained that a review by the district’s demographers indicated that approximately 15 percent of elementary school students will be impacted by the changes, which the district considers a low figure.
Box also noted that the proposed attendance boundaries plan makes the best use of natural boundary lines along the Leon River, which will serve as a dividing point for Belton High School and the new Lake Belton High School opening in 2020.
“The Leon River does create a really nice natural boundary for the Belton school district,” Box said. “One thing that the school district has going for it is about 50 percent of the students live north of the Leon River and 50 percent of the students live south of the Leon River.”
Dr. Kincannon solicited feedback and answered questions from the committee regarding the implementation of new attendance boundaries. Several questions regarding grandfathering and transfers were discussed, and Kincannon explained that after the Board’s action on attendance boundaries Monday, she planned to make a formal presentation to the Board of Trustees regarding the district’s transfer process.
She noted that while there would be an opportunity for parents to request a transfer, no decisions would be made until after all transfers were received and the administration had an opportunity to review and discuss the impact of transfers in a variety of areas including staffing and enrollment numbers for each school. However, she explained that priority would be given to siblings, special programs and students at the highest grade levels in a school.
Members of the committee were offered feedback forms to provide additional information to the Board of Trustees, who will deliberate and take action on new boundaries at its next meeting Monday, January 14.
“We are a growing district and that of course comes with challenges,” Board President Sue Jordan said. “And we are thankful for the care the committee has demonstrated and their careful consideration of all of the factors influencing this important decision.”