BELTON — The Belton Independent School District’s board of trustees unanimously approved new middle school attendance zones for the 2014-2015 school year on Monday that were recommended by Belton ISD’s administration.
The new map, which is available for viewing at www.bisd.net, is the most contiguous of those proposed and lowers the current imbalance in socioeconomic rates among middle schools by 11 percent, said Belton ISD Superintendent Susan Kincannon.
Based on feedback received at three middle school boundary attendance zone committee meetings, two public forums and online submissions, the map selected was overwhelmingly supported by the public over other options, Kincannon said.
An internal review, which provided feedback from staff and included transportation issues, also favored the map that was selected. The map was chosen without modifications.
“It offers contiguous boundaries and minimizes travel,” Kincannon said. “It offers the most efficient bus service, didn’t split routes and maximizes state transportation reimbursement.”
The process was time-consuming and difficult at times, but it worked, said Randy Pittenger, school board president.
“We recruited people from every school in the district (to participate in the committee meetings), and we had 70 to 80 at each meeting,” he said. “We also had a lot of information readily available on our website. The process worked as it was supposed to.”
School board member Jason Carothers said he had a different view.
“I’m a little disappointed in the process,” he said. “I don’t believe it was well attended. Many of those (at committee meetings and public forums) were staff.
“We need to do something to get the community more involved in the beginning. We had more input in the elementary boundary discussions (in late 2012 and early 2013).”
One area of improvement Carothers highlighted was the online response.
“That was a lot better than we received for elementary schools,” he said. “Some people had very good points, and it gave us more feedback than at the public forums.”
The beginning of the process actually stretched far beyond the first committee meeting in October. “We laid the groundwork as far back as the (2012) bond issue,” Kincannon said.
Board member Amanda Winkler said the feedback captured her attention.
“The Internet responses really opened my eyes to a lot of concerns,” she said.
“Many parents and kids are concerned about change.”
During the initial meeting, community members said socioeconomic balance at each school was most important, Carothrs said.
“People said they did want that ideally, but in practical reality they saw it didn’t work out and changed their minds,” Pittenger said.
The district will accept transfer requests from families affected by the rezoning.
For more information, call 254-215-2000.