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Added safety measures possible for Belton ISD because of 2022 bond

The first day of school for Belton ISD will bring a stranger focus on safety, mental health, bridging the learning gap and strengthening communication.

BELTON, Texas — Safety, mental health, communication with the community and bridging the learning gap are just a few things Belton ISD hopes to focus on past the first day of school.

The worry over safety comes after the Uvalde shooting and the fatal stabbing of a Joe Ramirez, a high school student who attended Belton High.

An administrator at Belton ISD, Michael Morgan, said the ISD cannot comment on the incident that happened last school year, as it is an ongoing investigation.

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But Morgan said the use of technology will help Belton ISD in terms of safety.

There is access to a tip line through their website, which Morgan said could prevent negative incidents from occurring.

The school district also has systems in place to make sure every student is accounted for, from the busses to the lunch rooms.

"Our number one expectation is our kids are going to be taken care of – our kids are going to be safe," he added.

Morgan also stated that extra safety measures would not be possible without the 2022 bond.

"Our community prioritized some safety items in our 2022 bond and our voters elected to pass that bond," he said.

Over the summer, the ISD also formed a safety task force full of students, parents, administrators and mental health providers.

Morgan said it was their input that helped the ISD realize how they should address the issue of safety.

Along with technology, the school district will work on keeping up their relationship with Temple Police and local law enforcement.

Morgan hopes to keep staff trained, supervise all areas of the buildings and make sure exterior access points are always locked.

Another focus for Belton ISD is bridging the learning gap this year.

Morgan said their district is ahead on that issue. They provide students summer classes, but unlike summer school where a kid might just try to catch up, the ISD provides enrichment classes.

"These could be science, art, math, you name it," Morgan added.

There's also one sixth grade science teacher who hopes to make a huge impact on her students.

Elizabeth Cancel said her students just don't know how to talk to one another anymore.

"Students were removed from that public setting for so long, so obviously we have table groups and we have lots of table talk," Cancel said.

The sixth grade teacher is also taking interactive learning to a whole new level.

The first week of school, students will write to their parents about a planet they "visited" and describe it to them.

Throughout the year she will also have activities that include the students who need more assistance than others.

In order to bridge that learning gap, Cancel is also introducing technology into her classroom. Kids might have to drop their phones at her her door, but she said technology can be a great resource when used right.

"We're going to give them their flip books and it gives students a chance to talk to their classmates in a much more relaxed environment because they're still adjusting," she said.

Her one main goal for this year is to create a positive work space, that allows for collaboration and inspiration.

"We get to have fun and I just want to make my classroom as fun as I can," she added.

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