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Trustees Approve Changes to Spring Calendar to Support Learning

BELTON, TX The Belton ISD Board of Trustees approved changes to the district’s spring calendar on Monday with the intent of better supporting teachers - and thus students - during this most unusual school year.

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

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

In October, district leaders gathered feedback from teachers 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 Jan. 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,” said Michael Morgan, assistant superintendent of operations. “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 last year.

In other news, the Board recognized 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.

December 14, 2020