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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

Belton ISD trustees approve changes to spring calendar to support learning

The changes include adding three teacher in-service/student holiday days on January 5, March 1 and April 26 to allow for more teacher planning.
Credit: ksdk

BELTON, Texas — The Belton Independent School District Board of Trustees approved changes to the district’s spring calendar on Monday with the intent of supporting teachers and students during this unusual  2020-2021 school year.

The changes include adding three teacher in-service/student holiday days on January 5, March 1 and April 26 to allow for more teacher planning and professional development, according to Belton ISD.

“It’s a different kind of school year,” Deputy Superintendent Malinda Golden said. “We’re asking our teachers to manage students in multiple learning environments - sometimes simultaneously - and they’ve stepped up to the challenge."

District leaders gathered feedback from teachers in October through a ThoughtExchange survey and Zoom meetings on the challenges they are facing as they work to provide exceptional learning experiences for all students, both in-person and virtually.

“We heard our teachers,” Golden said. “To continue delivering the quality education that Belton ISD is known for, they need more time to plan together and further develop their skills. This revision to our calendar will allow that and ultimately benefit our students the most.” 

Making adjustments to the calendar is just one way the district is supporting teachers, Golden said. Other supportive efforts include protecting the dedicated time on early release Wednesdays for planning, clarifying expectations for at-school and at-home learners and increasing the personnel support on individual campuses from the district’s Teaching & Learning department.

“We’re utilizing all the resources in our toolbox to continue to support teachers,” she said. “This is requiring some creativity, but it’s worth it to be able to keep offering exceptional learning to our students.”

One other change to the calendar is the addition of an early dismissal day for secondary students on January 22 to coincide with the previously revised finals testing schedule. The newly approved calendar keeps in place the early release days on most Wednesdays that the Board adopted in the fall.

Also during the regular meeting on Monday, the Board celebrated the completion of efforts to improve playground amenities for students across all elementary campuses. The improvements included 76 new swings, 13 new playscapes, 17 new shade structures and 33,876 square feet of synthetic fall protection.

“This is one of those projects where once it’s complete, we receive immediate feedback from our kids,” Assistant Superintendent of operations Michael Morgan said. “Based on their smiles, and what we’ve heard from teachers and principals, I’d say that the Board hit a home run with this project. These playgrounds are going to serve our community and students for years - decades - to come.” 

The project’s initial phase, which provided accessible routes to all facilities, was completed in 2019.

Also, the Board recognized the Crossroads Church as a Big Red Community Partner for its significant generosity and support of Belton ISD students. Through its Take a Tag, Bless a Child campaign, the church will be filling the Christmas wish lists and clothing needs of more than 170 of the 308 homeless, foster and host family children participating in the district’s Project Heartbeat Angel Project.

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