BELTON, Texas – Belton Independent School District Superintendent Matt Smith told the Board of Trustees on Monday that growing enrollment, program equity, aging facilities and safety updates are driving the need for the district to call for a bond election.

At Monday’s regular meeting, Smith outlined for trustees his prioritized list of proposed projects totalling $168.2 million. The list of proposed projects includes building two elementary schools, an addition at Southwest Elementary, campus safety and security updates, land acquisition for future facilities and Career & Technical Education and fine arts improvements at Belton High School and Belton New Tech High School at Waskow.

Also included is a facility for the Delta Program – the district’s special education program for students ages 18-22 designed to teach life skills – along with security enhancements, HVAC, roofing, plumbing, electrical repair/replacement, and technology infrastructure and devices.

The board, which has the ultimate authority of whether to call for a bond election or not, is scheduled to make a decision by February 15.

Smith’s recommendation to call a bond is the culmination of more than 28 hours of work by a Bond Exploration Committee of community members and parents representing each campus and area of the district. The group started meeting in September to review demographic information, growth trends, facilities assessment data and school/district needs.

In October, demographers told the board that, conservatively, by 2031 the district’s total enrollment will balloon from the 13,300 students of today to more than 19,000. They also presented a possible scenario for even more rapid growth. This growth is already underway, as the district saw a 5.8 percent increase in students, or 733 additional students, from fall 2020 to fall 2021.

Demographers attribute the 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. This growth is also coupled with a strong retention rate.

In other news, the board approved the hiring of Melissa Lafferty as the district’s next chief financial officer. Lafferty, a certified public accountant, has almost 20 years of business financial management experience with eleven of those being in a school district.

Lafferty holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. She most recently served as the executive director of finance in Marble Falls ISD. She has also worked in Lago Vista ISD and Killeen ISD.

The board also voted to approve contracting May 7 election services with the Bell County Office of Election Administration. The move is expected to save the district money by sharing the cost of election workers, supplies and equipment, and programming fees with the county.

The board also approved the 2022-2023 school year calendar, which includes the first day of school on August 17 and the last day on May 24. To arrive at this calendar, district leaders weighed feedback from members of the Districtwide Educational Improvement Council (DWEIC) and campus leaders.

Source: Belton Independent School District