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New Belton ISD Elementary Schools Named After Local Educator, Geographic Location

The two newest Belton ISD elementary schools can now be referred to by their official names: James L. Burrell Elementary and Hubbard Branch Elementary. The Board of Trustees approved the names at its regular meeting on Monday.

The schools are part of the 2022 Bond proposal approved by voters in May. Construction on Burrell Elementary is underway in the northern part of the district at 8104 Glade Dr. in Temple. Hubbard Branch Elementary is in the design phase and will be located in the southern part of the district in the Hubbard Branch subdivision.

The community’s voice played a major role in the naming process, reflecting the district’s values and beliefs. The names, nods to a longtime Belton ISD educator and a geographic location, were selected from a list of 32 nominations submitted by community members. A school name selection committee representing the Big Red Community reviewed suggestions and narrowed the pool to three options for each school, which were presented to trustees Monday night.

“These choices are incredibly fitting,” Superintendent Matt Smith said. “I have never heard an unkind thing ever said about Mr. Burrell. His dedication and service to Belton ISD students are legendary. I also appreciate the geographical nature of Hubbard Branch. It’s community-focused, and that’s something we wish for all our schools — that they are loved and owned by the students and staff who spend their days growing and learning there.”

Burrell worked in Belton ISD for 53 years, starting as a teacher at the district’s segregated campus, T.B. Harris High School, in 1962. He later worked at Belton Middle School and Belton High School as a teacher and coach. After he retired in 2000, he served as a bus driver until May 2015. Burrell passed away in July 2020.

“Mr. James Burrell devoted his entire life to serving the students in Belton ISD,” a nomination stated. “His philosophy of education was that all students have the ability to learn. His duty was to teach students to discover those barriers to learning and to help all students develop positive self-concepts and to make learning meaningful. He exemplified what it meant to be an educator and a caring person.”

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Michael Morgan oversaw the name selection process. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of the quality and caliber of the names brought forth by the community. Any one of them would have been a thoughtful choice,” Morgan said. “The committee also demonstrated the utmost integrity and respect in following the naming process outlined in our board policy. I am grateful to them for volunteering their time for this important task.”

Mascots and school colors will be selected later, Morgan said.

Opening dates for both schools are still being determined. The district is starting a process now to evaluate attendance zones with plans to bring a proposal to the board in February.

More information on the May 2022 bond projects is available at

In other news, the board heard an update on the district’s Bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. Yolanda Sarinana and Vickie Dean, from the Teaching & Learning department, told trustees that the district currently has students native in 29 different languages, including Spanish, Korean, Urdu and Vietnamese. The bilingual program serves 386 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade, while the ESL program enrolls 543 students across all grades.

Nov. 14, 2022