During the Belton Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Jill Ross, who will serve as the inaugural Principal of Lake Belton High School, offered a presentation: “Planning Beyond the Building” of LBHS. With the establishment of a new school comes a multitude of considerations, preparations and responsibilities, and Ross said she is determined to ensure students are equipped for success when they walk through the doors in August 2020.
It was announced on Monday that the exterior of the building is 90 percent complete, so the planning process for its inaugural school year of 2020-21 is well under way.
“Thank you for having me and allowing me to come and talk to you today about the work that we’ve been doing behind-the-scenes for Lake Belton High School,” Ross said.
Not only is the building state-of-the-art, but it has also been crafted for function, Ross said.
“We want our staff and students to be critical thinkers; we want them to collaborate; we want them to be creative, and we want them to be able to analyze,” Ross said. “And so, we have worked to create a building that emphasizes that, all of those activities, and every piece of it has a function; every part of it is built to have a function.”
With that, Ross introduced four pieces of the LBHS puzzle that she and the Belton ISD students, faculty and staff are committed to addressing: 1) detailed identification and purchasing of instructional materials, 2) fine arts, 3) human resources, and 4) student services.
The purchase of materials includes everything from teaching materials to curriculum and student resources. Because of this, Ross said she has been working closely with the Belton Department of Curriculum and Instruction to optimize the school’s potential for student success.
Many developments have been made or are in the works for the fine arts department. Bobby Yerigan has been announced as the Head Band Director for LBHS and has been helpful in the process of fine-tuning the band preparations, Ross said.
On Thursday, Nov. 21, a meeting will be held wherein the future LBHS band members will have the opportunity to provide feedback on two band uniform samples, as well as offer input on the school and fight songs. The number of instruments and band trailers are is also being considered.
“If Lake Belton High School opens as a 4A school, we know that next year is a 4A advancing year for marching contest, and we have pretty high expectations; we want to see them come out of the district contest and perform well, so we need to make sure that we have what they need in order to be successful,” Ross said. “Right now, our lists that we’re creating are for four years’ worth of kids, so what will we need to build out and open as if we were opening in August for seniors.”
Because the production of band and dance uniforms takes time, these were at the top of the priority list for the LBHS fine arts department.
“So, I want to tell you tonight that we will have the Silver Spurs dance team next year, and we are excited about that,” Ross said.
Dance, choir, orchestra and theater director positions will be posted in January 2020.
“We’re working to figure out, once we identify the theater director, what performances are appropriate for a student body of just freshman and sophomores because we want to give them a great experience, but we also know that when we have just two grade levels it’s going to look a little different next year.”
With this, Ross emphasized that employment within the district’s Human Resources Department is going to be a three-year process due to the school starting with only ninth and tenth graders. She also said the first wave of notifications will be sent out in December, and some have already been posted; Brian Gill was named as the Assistant Principal of LBHS.
In accordance with the human resources aspect of a new school, Director of Employee Relations & Staffing Calvin Itz offered Belton High School teachers a survey where they could vote on which high school they would prefer to teach at. This was completed in October, but it is noteworthy that student course requests will be taken into consideration when determining how many teachers LBHS will need and how many will remain at Belton High School.
Student services concerns the intradistrict, students within the district, transfer process, which must adhere to University Interscholastic League (UIL) and Board Policy, and the ongoing culture structuring of LBHS. This includes everything from designing letterman jackets to ensuring LBHS will have a yearbook.
“I just want to say, this is such an exciting thing, and you’re building a legacy, but I can’t think of a better person that I would rather have leading this,” Board Member Ty Taggart said.