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Belton ISD Trustees Explore Redistricting Options

The Belton ISD Board of Trustees heard a plan Friday that will adjust trustee districts to balance population changes reflected in the 2020 U.S. Census.

The plan was presented at a special board meeting by Mark Morrison, a Baylor Law School professor emeritus and expert on redistricting. Morrison has worked on redistricting in Central Texas and around the state for more than 40 years.

Redistricting — the process of redrawing the lines of districts from which public officials are elected based on population changes over the past decade — is intended to ensure that district boundaries accurately reflect changes in population and racial diversity. 

According to Morrison, four of the five Belton ISD trustee districts are imbalanced due to significant growth in the past decade — District 2, 3, 4 and 5. He suggests balancing District 3's population by adding population from District 2. District 2 can be replenished by extending into District 4 and 5, which both need to be reduced. District 1 is within 65 people of the ideal population and needs minimal changes.

In the 10 years since the last census, Belton ISD’s population has grown by more than 18,000 people, of 40.2%. This has equated to 3,802 additional students over the last decade for a growth rate of 38.4%. The bulk of those students — 2,238 — were added in the last five years.

“The previous school board and district administrators prepared for fast growth. The last five years, however, show an acceleration of growth,” said Dr. Matt Smith, superintendent. “Such an acceleration obviously impacts our trustee districts, which is why we are here today.”

Based on numbers of students added in the last five years, Belton ISD is the fastest growing Region 12 school district and the 28th fastest growing district in Texas.

By comparison, Bell County’s total population has increased by 19.5% from 310,235 to 370,647. 

“Belton ISD is growing at double the rate of the county as a whole,” Smith said. “It’s a good problem to have, but we’re facing some decisions in the near future to make sure we are able to continue providing exceptional learning experiences for each and every student we serve in the Big Red Community.”

The Board expects to take action to approve any changes to trustee districts before the February election filing deadline.

Oct. 29, 2021