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Belton ISD Continues Preparation for Growing Enrollment

BELTON, TX — The Belton ISD Board of Trustees heard a familiar refrain from demographers at its regular meeting Monday — more students are coming to the Big Red Community.

In a bi-annual presentation to the district, Michelle Box from Templeton Demographics told the Board it should be prepared to welcome an additional 3,000 students to the district in the next five years. 

These projections include 5.6% annual growth as the district continues to be one of the only in the state to experience increased enrollment growth during the pandemic, Box said. The booming housing market is also credited with the growth. New home sales in the area, for example, have tripled in the last six years.

“Our job over the next few months will be to take this demographic information and pair it with our facilities assessment so we can make the appropriate decisions moving forward in a long-range facility plan,” said Superintendent Matt Smith. 

At the elementary level, Templeton Demographics estimates an average growth of 366 students per year or 1,800 during the next five years.

Chisholm Trail Elementary and Tarver Elementary are expected to be impacted the most by this accelerated, rapid growth, Box said. District administrators have been assessing strategies on how to best meet student needs during this rapid growth since September.

Michael Morgan, assistant superintendent of operations, proposed a comprehensive plan to address elementary enrollment growth that will include adding additional teachers, closing impacted campuses to new transfers, repurposing existing space at Lakewood Elementary and Sparta Elementary and purchasing portable classrooms. 

Smith stressed that portable buildings are a temporary strategy to address the growth and not a long-term solution.

“We have growth in the north and the south of our district and are only in the second year of new attendance boundaries,” Smith said. “We’d like to keep kids at those home campuses. When you add a new school, you have to change attendance boundaries. We want to avoid multiple changes, and portable buildings will help us do that in the short term.” 

The Board approved the purchase of five portable buildings to be used at Chisholm Trail and Tarver in the 2021-2022 school year. The money will come from surplus funds from the $149.7 million bond voters approved in May 2017.

In other news, the Board heard an update on the 2017 bond program and a report from Lake Belton High School students and staff on what it’s like to be a student at the district’s newest campus.

Smith also discussed the district’s COVID-19 Response Plan and what a transition to Scenario 2 might look like. In Scenario 2, he said, prevention and mitigation strategies will remain a priority, however, some restrictions can be loosened to allow increased access to campus and higher capacity at spring events. Wearing masks inside Belton ISD facilities will still be required for students and staff, and distancing will still be encouraged. Additional communication to families will be sent ahead of any scenario transition.

March 29, 2021