BELTON — Belton high schools could soon have two mascots.
“We all know that Belton ISD is unique in many ways,” Belton Independent School District Superintendent Susan Kincannon said Monday. “And one thing that is especially unique for a district of our size, is that from…pre-k through high school, regardless of what school a student attends, he or she is a Tiger.”
BISD began the process of choosing a mascot for its second comprehensive high school at its Monday board meeting.
The planned high school was part of the $149.7 million bond package that voters approved in the spring. During the weeks leading up to the district’s May bond election, members of the board all agreed that concerns about the new mascot were prevalent among voters.
Kincannon laid out a proposed schedule for choosing a new mascot, with a final decision to be made in November. The process will begin with an online input form, to be launched on Aug. 1, and there will be two community input meetings at 6 p.m. Aug. 14 and 28.
“Our goal is to create a process that is inclusive and engages the community throughout the decision-making process,” Kincannon said. “The first question that we’ll need to wrestle with is whether or not it’s time to move away from a single mascot and set of colors. And that might have been the question that I was asked most often during the bond election.”
Belton Mayor Marion Grayson, who did not attend the meeting, once served as the mascot at Belton High School. She agreed that choosing a mascot is important to the community. Grayson indicated that separating the Belton ISD community into two high schools could be a hard process.
“There’s some growing pains, but I think it’s time,” she said. “But I’m interested to see what (mascot) they vote on….I think a high school is definitely a (focus) for community spirit.”
BISD trustee Janet Leigh also once wore Belton High School’s Tiger costume.
“This is a very passionate subject,” Leigh said. “In the end, there’s going to be a lot of people not happy, so if you are in earshot, you need to make sure you’re letting your friends and family know … that they can have input.”
Leigh emphasized that a decision would have to be made, even if it may not please everyone.
“I was Tigo, so this is a huge, huge deal for me,” she said. “And I’m going to be open to the process — whatever it is.”
Board President Randy Pittenger agreed that the question was important to community members during the debate over the bond issue.
“We weren’t surprised that that came up, but we were surprised at how much it came up,” Pittenger said. “We got a lot of feedback on that.”
To continue encouraging that feedback, Kincannon suggested that the board schedule four meetings to gather input — the two with the general community, as well as one with current students at Belton High School and one with middle school students.
“This year’s incoming sixth and seventh graders are going to be our first students to go to the new high school,” Kincannon said.
At the board’s September meeting, Kincannon said, the district can review the community input and decide on a general approach to choosing a mascot and colors — either the same, slightly different, or completely new.
After making that decision in September, the district will again seek input from the community, before coming up with preliminary options in its October meeting and then making a final decision in November.
Kincannon and Pittenger both encouraged anyone interested to attend the community meetings.
“This is open to all,” Pittenger said. “It is not intended to be a blue-ribbon, invitation-only kind of event.”
Kincannon said that the input the district is seeking in the early stages of the decision-making process is more general than specific.
“Our goal for both the online form and for these sessions is to focus more on what the name, colors and mascot should convey, such as heritage, sense of place, etc., than on the specific options that each participant might like,” Kincannon said. “This is a big transition for our community and we’re going to get lots of feedback and bring it back to you.”