Belton Independent School District Superintendent Matt Smith says the district is almost ready to move into the next phase of integrating students into a somewhat normal classroom schedule.

Speaking to the Board of Trustees at a meeting Monday, Smith said Belton ISD plans to move into Scenario 3 of the district's COVID-19 response plan beginning October 5.

Under Scenario 3, at-school learners will attend classes in person Monday through Friday, with a one hour early dismissal time on Wednesdays.

At-home learning will remain an option for students under Scenario 3, masks will still be required for students and staff on campus, and the district's COVID-19 prevention and mitigation strategies will remain in place.

Since the school year began on September 8, the district has been operating under Scenario 4 of its COVID-19 response plan, under which all students learned from home on Wednesdays, with a hybrid schedule for high schoolers - in-person learning two days per a week and at-home learning three days per week.

“My No. 1 goal is to keep kids safe and to have them in school,” Smith said. “Scenario 4 gave us the opportunity to do that, but it is truly the shared responsibility between students, staff and the community that has made our start to the school year successful. Everyone is doing their part, and it’s working.”

According to a news release, the pandemic hasn't slowed the growth of the district. Belton ISD enrollment is up 320 students from this time last year.

“We are still growing in Belton ISD, pandemic or not,” Smith said. “The Board deserves a lot of credit for its planning for the two campuses opened this year, Lake Belton High School and Belton Middle School. There’s no question we needed them.”

In other district news, the Board of Trustees on Monday night adopted a 6.8% decrease in the district's tax rate.

"Under the adopted tax rate, the total projected revenue based on a 98 percent collection rate is $55,019,321, a 5.3 percent increase from last year," Belton ISD's Karen Rudolph reported Monday night. "This increase, however, does not equate to an increase in money for the district. Districts get the same amount of money per student each year, so the increase in total tax revenue means that the school district receives less money from the state."

“Recognizing that our tax payers are seeing an increase in property values, the Board’s approval of a lower tax rate provides some relief and demonstrates our continued commitment to providing the best value,” said Board President Suzanne M. McDonald. “However, it is important that our community understand that the increases they are experiencing does not mean the district is directly benefiting.”

Finally, the Board approved Kristie Blattner for the position of assistant principal at Lean Heights Elementary School.

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