BELTON, Texas — Editor's Note: The video above is from July 2020
Big things are happening for Belton ISD as the 2021-2022 school year looms on the horizon.
The district said they began to develop a strategic plan back in February and included comments from over 350 community members.
“We started with a steering team of students, staff, parents and community representatives,” said Superintendent Matt Smith. “Following three Community Summits and information from community input tools, this team identified areas we wanted to focus on in support of our district goals — a way to zoom in on what we believe is most important in creating the best school district in the country.”
The district, along with students, staff, parents and community members outlined five areas of focus that were developed over the course of two months, April and May:
- Engaging All Voices
- A close-knit community is maintained through strong partnerships and engaging all voices in two-way communication
- Future-forward Facilities
- The district’s facilities are community investments that support innovation, exceptional learning, academic skills and Journey of a Graduate competencies
- Exceptional Learning
- Mastery of knowledge and Journey of a Graduate competencies are valued over grades and testing
- Each and Every Student
- Inclusion and equitable opportunities for each and every student to pursue the future they want is valued
- Social and Emotional Support
- Staff are prepared to support the whole child, both socially and emotionally
Smith said transparency in the process was key to the adoption of the strategic plan moving forward, citing inclusiveness as a way to make sure everyone had a voice in the growth of the district.
“We went straight to our community and asked them to join the conversation, to dive into these focus areas our stakeholders identified and help develop our key strategies,” Smith said. “We relied heavily on their perspective and input.”
Smith said the district will now operate under a new mission statement, a statement the district is proud of and embodies the hope for all students who walk the hallways of Belton ISD.
"Empower each and every learner to pursue their dreams and enrich their communities," Smith said. “With our strategic plan in place, we have the blueprint. We have the roadmap to make Belton ISD a district where students are inspired and empowered, where the best educators want to spend their careers. We can't wait to move forward together, with our community.”
Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Funds
In other news, the district approved a plan on how they will spend the $11,117,008 dollar Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III funds the district will apply for in July.
"The largest amount of funds will go toward specialized instructional spaces, followed by instructional programs and educational materials, staffing for learning acceleration, mental health support, professional learning and communication enhancements to support students, staff and families," said Jennifer Lund, Chief Financial Officer for Belton ISD.
According to a the Texas Education Agency, the funds must be used to respond to the pandemic and address any and all learning loss as a result. The money is to help the district financially recoup costs incurred between March 2020 and September 2024. How the district will allocate the funds was decided through, both, a public hearing last month and through a stakeholder survey.
New Elementary Footprint in Belton
The Board of Trustees also approved the hiring of Cloud Construction Co., Inc. as the district begins the process of expanding it's elementary footprint. Smith said a new elementary prototype is needed as the old one dates back to 2006, prior to the construction of Tarver Elementary.
Enrollment projections shows a growth of 360 elementary students each year and about 3,000 students by 2025, according to a release. Smith said the district plans to discuss the strategies needed as Belton ISD grows rapidly. Those conversations, Smith said, are expected to take place over the next six month with an eye towards the future.
“Based on our community input in the strategic planning process, we know our plan plays an important role in our future,” Smith said. “By creating a new elementary school footprint, our community members will know and understand specific elementary school needs when we discuss potential bond elections after 2021.”