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Demographers: Belton ISD on Track to Reach 19,000 Students Within 10 Years

Growth in Belton ISD is not slowing anytime soon. That’s what the Belton ISD Board of Trustees heard from demographers during a workshop session held Monday evening at the Administration Building.

Michelle Box, a demographer with Zonda Education, formerly Templeton Demographics, told the board that by 2031, the district’s total enrollment is expected to balloon from today’s 13,300 students to more than 19,000. 

“The growth is already happening,” said Superintendent Matt Smith. “We saw a 5.8 percent increase in students from fall 2020 to fall 2021. This equates to 733 additional students. We’re also seeing a strong retention rate, even while growing.”

Demographers attribute this growth to a booming housing market — the district has 46 actively building subdivisions with groundwork underway on about 1,975 lots — and the district’s strong reputation as a destination district, somewhere families desire to enroll their children.

The Lake Pointe and Lake Point Terrace subdivisions have been driving growth in the northern part of the district with homes yielding 0.8 students each compared to the average yield of 0.5. But the southside of the district will soon catch up with the development of Hubbard Branch near Miller Heights Elementary and Three Creeks near Chisholm Trail Elementary.

While it is more difficult to project what that long-term growth will look like, if it continues at a similar rate, Belton ISD could have more than 14,300 elementary students, 6,500 middle school students and 8,200 high school students by 2051.

“Those numbers will make you stop and catch your breath,” Smith said. “They’re also a reminder of why the conversations we’re having now and the decisions that will need to be made very soon are so important for our community and our kids.”

During its regular meeting following the workshop, trustees heard an update on the progress being made by the Bond Exploration Committee, a group that began meeting last month to review enrollment growth, facility needs and desired student experiences in the school district. The end goal is to present prioritized project recommendations to Smith who will ultimately provide recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

“We have a great group of community members who are taking their role on this committee very seriously,” said Elizabeth Cox, executive director of communications and community engagement. “They’ve immersed themselves in the facts and are starting now to brainstorm solutions for addressing both the growth, as well as the aging and evolving facilities needs we have. It’s interesting to see multiple perspectives surface and the committee explore what’s best for providing exceptional experiences for each and every student in Belton ISD.”

The Board also voted to designate Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow as a stand-alone school of choice beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. The school has been operating as a program of Belton High School since Lake Belton High School opened in fall 2020, a decision made during the planning phase of constructing LBHS. The change, which impacts current freshmen, will allow the school to offer its own AP and dual credit courses, enhanced Career and Technology offerings and unique UIL and non-UIL extracurricular opportunities. Current sophomores and juniors will be able to remain at New Tech as a program of BHS through their graduation.

In other news, the board approved seeking proposals for a new HVAC system at Southwest Elementary. If approved by the Texas Education Agency, the system will be funded with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II funds. The work is expected to take six weeks to complete. 

Smith also reminded the board that early voting is underway in Bell County and includes a $184.9 million bond election for Temple ISD. Election Day is Nov. 2.

“Public education is an investment in our future,” Smith said. “I hope anyone who is able will support our neighbors in Temple ISD in their bond election.”

Oct. 18, 2021