Thursday, April 24, 2014
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BISD creates four middle school zoning maps

By David Tuma
Publisher

The Belton Independent School District’s boundaries committee came up with four plans for the attendance boundaries for the three middle schools now that Belton Middle School will become part of Belton High School. The top two plans came close to what were top priorities – demographics similar at each school and keeping neighborhood schools.


Keeping the schools equal and being fair to each student in terms of putting them in the best chance to succeed (demographic equality) is impossible without somebody having to drive past one of the junior highs they live closest to.
Currently the schools are not even remotely equal with South Belton Middle School-70 percent, Belton Middle School-39 percent and Lake Belton Middle School at 37 percent.  Schools with a high percent of low demographics historically, underperform and Belton is not known to have schools that underperform.
There will be a public forum January 6th at SBMS and January 7th at LBMS for the public to comment on which plan they prefer or ideas they may have. These forums are a key part of the process and after the two meetings BISD administrators will develop a final two plans to be presented to the school board.
The top plan is Map X with LBMS-55 percent, SBMS-59 percent and NBMS-37 percent. The next plan selected by the committee is probably the best plan for residents of Belton but not the top plan. The vote was close but Map X4 has demographics divided by LBMS-52 percent, SBMS -59 percent and NBMS-40 percent.
The committee worked hard on creating the maps in three meetings of about 2 hours each. There were over 75 participating with each school represented by a teacher, parent and principal. A key part of BISD’s long-term community financial support is that they involve the community in helping make decisions. Over half of the 75 members participating were not community members, not teachers or administrators. This fact and BISD following Belton’s doing right by all children is the key component in BISD getting bond issues passed, nobody has an agenda.
“The committee worked well together and Belton has that ability to have strong ideas and still work through the issues. The starting block of the committee was to do what is best for all the students,” said deputy superintendent Eric Haugeberg.