Belton Independent School District’s growing enrollment has administrators and school board members thinking of the future, and how best to serve the district’s high school students.
Options include building a second comprehensive high school, continuing with one mega high school or adding additional satellite campuses.
District representatives visited four school districts that had similar growth patterns to Belton ISD — Georgetown, Rockwall, Northwest (in the Fort Worth area) and College Station — to see how they handled their growth.
“When we visited Georgetown, we had an eerie feeling that we were meeting with a long-lost twin we had never met before,” Deputy Superintendent Eric Haugeberg said. “There are a lot of similarities.”
Belton ISD currently has 10,300 students, including 2,603 at Belton High School. That doesn’t include the 316 high school students served by New Tech.
Georgetown’s enrollment is 10,700, including 3,225 at the high school level.
When the Georgetown district decided to call for a bond election to build a second full service high school, it had about 2,800 high school students. Both of their campuses are currently in Class 4A, the second largest enrollment classification for University Interscholastic League competition.
Georgetown ISD voters approved a $34.2 million bond election in 2005 for phase one of the new Eastview High School, which was part of an $80 million bond package.
Eastview opened in 2008 as a ninth-grade center. Georgetown had a follow-up bond package approved by voters in 2010 for $137.3 million, including $41.2 million for phase two of the Eastview campus.
“That bond included $28 million for renovation of the existing high school,” Haugeberg said. “They didn’t want to forget or neglect what they called ‘the old man on the block.’”
Among the positives mentioned by Georgetown ISD officials regarding adding a second school were increased opportunities for student participation.
Having two comprehensive high schools allowed Georgetown to double the number of varsity football teams, marching bands, cheerleading squads, drill teams and music programs.
“We have twice as many opportunities for participation in student activities at the high school level in our district,” Georgetown Superintendent Joe Dan Lee told visitors from Belton ISD.
Under state guidelines, Georgetown is no longer considered to be a fast-growing school district.
College Station ISD, which opened College Station High School to join A&M Consolidated High School, was the second district profiled by Belton ISD.
The College Station ISD has 11,600 students. Its high school enrollment was 2,800 in 2009, when the district had a bond election to open a second high school.
The current high school enrollment is 3,110, giving the district two Class 4A high schools.