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Belton ISD Trustees Adopt New Elementary Attendance Boundaries

The Belton ISD Board of Trustees adopted new elementary attendance boundaries on Monday that will help the district manage growth, maximize the use of facilities and reduce the need for long-term portables. 

The changes are needed as the construction of two elementary schools — James L. Burrell Elementary and Hubbard Branch Elementary — is underway and an addition is planned at Southwest Elementary. 

“Making changes to which schools students attend is never an easy discussion,” Matt Smith, superintendent, said. “I’m proud of the way our administrators have engaged stakeholders throughout the months-long process to hear their feedback and take their thoughts and concerns into consideration. This listening process was important to our trustees, and I believe we were able to effectively collaborate with our stakeholders to come up with the best solution for the community.”  

The new attendance boundaries will take effect for the 2024-2025 school year, except for Burrell Elementary, which will be implemented in fall 2023. 

Burrell, in the northern part of Belton ISD, is scheduled to open mid-year in January 2024 and will draw students from Tarver Elementary. 

“The goal is to be able to provide relief to Tarver’s overcrowding in the fall,” Michael Morgan, assistant superintendent of operations, said. “We’ll be communicating with future Burrell Elementary families soon about plans to start creating the school community. Once a principal is named, we’ll jump straight into the fun things, like choosing a mascot and colors.” 

Hubbard Branch Elementary, in the southern part of Belton ISD, is expected to open in the fall of 2024 and will draw its student body from Chisholm Trail Elementary and Miller Heights Elementary. The adjustment will alleviate overcrowding at Chisholm Trail and the need for its six portables. Miller Heights, which opened in 1963 and has about 300 students and five portables, will close.

Also, under the new attendance boundaries, some students currently attending Charter Oak Elementary will be moved to Southwest.

In total, the district will eliminate the use of 21 portables.

“Portables are one strategy to help manage enrollment fluctuations,” Morgan said. “What we don’t like is when they become a long-term solution. It’s exciting to know that these attendance boundaries adjustments are going to help remove the need for a large number of portables across the district.”

Southwest will also now feed to Belton Middle School in addition to South Belton Middle School. Students at Lakewood Elementary, which was previously a split feeder pattern, will now all attend Lake Belton Middle School.

In other news, trustees approved the hiring of Gabi Niño as assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning. She replaces Deanna Lovesmith who retired and will rejoin the district in a part-time capacity as director of gifted services.

Niño, who has 21 years of experience in education, has served as the district’s executive director of school leadership for three years. Her previous roles include serving as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and director of assessment and feedback.

Trustees also approved the hiring of Sara Windham as executive director of Special Programs. She replaces Jennifer Ramirez who is stepping down to become the recruitment coordinator for the district. 

Windham has served as director of Special Programs in Belton ISD for three years. She previously served as a speech language pathologist and special education coordinator at Georgetown ISD for 12 years.

Trustees also approved the hiring of two assistant principals — Kristi Wittman at Belton High School and Meredith Bonnett at Southwest Elementary.

Wittman, who is completing her 18th year in education, currently serves as an assistant principal at Georgetown High School. She’s also worked as a teacher in Plano ISD and Leander ISD as well as at Central Texas Christian School in Temple.

Bonnett currently serves as an intervention specialist at Southwest and is finishing her 22nd year in education. She’s previously worked as a teacher in Salado ISD and Leander ISD and also has experience as an English as a second language coordinator.

The board also approved using competitive sealed proposals as the delivery method for the construction of agriculture and Delta Program facilities, two projects being funded by the May 2022 bond. The district hopes it will provide the most competition among contractors for the work to be performed at the lowest cost.

March 27, 2023