Education

Education

Temple is a city with a lot of school spirit — literally.

Residents live in a wide array of school districts. There’s the obvious one — the Temple Independent School District. But they also live in Belton ISD, Academy ISD and even Troy ISD. Others attend private local schools.

Temple is not just a city full of Wildcats. It also has Tigers, Bumblebees and Trojans. Starting next year, there also will be Broncos as Lake Belton High School — Belton ISD’s second comprehensive high school — opens in the fall of 2020.

Student populations

Temple ISD has an enrollment of 8,703 students, according to Sept. 27 population data approved by the school board this week. Superintendent Bobby Ott said 98.8 percent of students in his district have Temple addresses.

“This is no surprise because Temple ISD is fed by only one city — Temple,” Ott said.

Temple ISD covers most of its namesake city. West Temple and parts of South Temple — two of the city’s growth corridors — are in other districts.

West Temple, where sprawling subdivisions, new restaurants and businesses have popped up in recent years, is in Belton ISD. That area is where the district is building Lake Belton High School and recently opened its newest school, Charter Oak Elementary.

There are 4,237 Belton ISD students who live in Temple, spokeswoman Elizabeth Cox said. Belton ISD currently has an enrollment of 12,212 students.

Other than West Temple, Belton ISD covers the city of Belton, Morgan’s Point Resort, unincorporated areas of Bell County, and parts of Fort Hood.

Part of South Temple is in Academy ISD. Of the 1,720 students enrolled in the district, 59 percent have a Temple address, Academy Superintendent Billy Harlan said.

Academy ISD includes Little River-Academy and large swaths of unincorporated Bell County southeast of Temple and east of Belton.

Beside Belton and Academy ISDs, Troy ISD covers far North Temple. Troy ISD’s enrollment is 1,558 — 279 students have Temple addresses. That is 18 percent of the district’s enrollment, Troy Superintendent Neil Jeter said.

District boundaries

The story of how school districts across Texas got their boundaries is long and complicated.

The Dallas Morning News reported all of the Lone Star State’s political geography boils down to one idea: local control.

There are 1,247 public school districts in the state, according to the Texas Education Agency. Then there are 1,216 incorporated cities, according to The News. And there are 254 counties.

Counties and cities played a role in shaping school districts.

Despite that, school district boundaries do not necessarily follow county lines or city limits.

“The boundaries of Texas public school districts originated by act of the local county commissioners court, or in some cases, city councils,” Ott said. “Over time, county or city school systems evolved into independent school districts with independent boards of trustees.”

Temple ISD is the oldest among the school districts in the city. It was formed June 12, 1883.

Belton ISD can trace its founding to the following year.

“The Belton Public Free Schools built its first dedicated school building in 1884, near the corner of East Third Avenue and North East Street,” Cox said. “In 1926, the school system separated from the city, and Belton Public Free Schools became the Belton independent School District.

Troy ISD was established in 1896, and Academy ISD was formed sometime between 1919 and 1925.

Commissioners courts continue to have a role in creating school districts. These five-person decision-making bodies can order the creation of a school district if a new one was needed, according to the Texas Education Code.

TEA also plays a role.

“With the modern, increased focus on accountability, the commissioner of education has also taken on a larger role in changing district boundaries in the case of school districts that fail to meet state accountability standards,” Ott said.

Promoting school spirit

The school districts promote school spirit in similar ways: Hosting pep rallies at their high schools; community events; spirit T-shirts; and other activities.

“Our goal on our campus is to have a united student body and encourage each and every group to be successful at Troy High School,” Terri McMurtry, a Troy English teacher, said. “We have wonderful support from our teachers participating in our pep rallies each week. Ag teachers, coaches, academic teachers, paraprofessionals, and office staff are all great motivators to our students and encourage school spirit by leading by example.”

Ott has worked five school districts. He described Temple ISD as having a unique sense of school spirit.

“Here is how I would describe it in Temple, ‘If you are on the outside you won’t understand it; and if you are on the inside you can’t explain it,’” Ott said. “One thing is for sure, we’ve never had an ‘away’ game. Wildcat fans travel and support their students very well.”

Ott pointed out another way school spirit is promoted among students.

“A lot of our students are second- and third-generation Wildcats. So, when it comes to Blue and White it is literally in their blood,” he said.

Over in Academy ISD, Harlan said promoting school spirit is a daily task in all of their schools.

“Academy has a rich history and ‘it is a great thing to be a Bumblebee,’” Harlan said. “Our district theme is #TCA — Take Care of Academy.”

School spirit starts with students in Belton ISD, Cox said.

“The district is focused on providing opportunities for kids to have great experiences and create moments that matter in the programs and activities our schools offer,” she said. “Students inform so much of what we do and as the current elementary mascot election process shows, their voice matters.”

Belton ISD is taking the same approach with Lake Belton High School.

“From day one of planning for Lake Belton High School, the district has recognized that the building is much more than a structure and have invited many local stakeholders in to ensure that it tells our story, both past and present,” Lake Belton HS Principal Jill Ross said. “As the principal I have been encouraged and supported in my efforts to build excitement for our future Broncos and their families.”