Paul Belton school may see name change

Paul Belton Early Childhood Center may soon be seeing a name change.Discussion was held on the matter during the regular meeting of the Borger ISD Board of Trustees Thursday evening. The proposed name change will be Paul Belton Elementary School.BISD Superintendent Chance Welch said that PBECC principal Amy Blansett approached him about the possibility after getting input from some of her teachers. Welch said the district does consider PBECC to be a rigorous academic elementary school.“Kindergarten is the new first grade,” he said. “Ages five to seven are just so critical, because that’s where a child really develops reading strategies in their mind. We view PBECC as a rigorous academic school where we’re going to help five and six year olds get those strategies and retain that knowledge.”Welch said a lot is expected from the kindergarten students in BISD, and there has been positive feedback from the first grade teachers this year about how well the children are doing, having moved up from kindergarten.“Hopefully we can continue that all the way through high school,” he said.Board president Johnny Rusten said with PBECC not named as an elementary school, a lot of parents don’t understand that the district plays by the same rules there as it does at its other elementary schools.“They may be a little less concerned about attendance rates,” he said. “It’s one thing to miss school in third grade, but if they think it’s just some government offering, they’re probably thinking they’re doing us a favor by not sending their child. It could be big dollars as far as our Average Daily Attendance.”Welch said children are not required by law to go to kindergarten, once a child does sign up, he or she is required to meet the 90 percent attendance rate to get credit for being at school. Action has been taken against parents who have failed to bring their children to school.Blansett said the attendance issues namely pertain to the Headstart three and four year old programs at PBECC, which are half-day programs. She said the school has worked hard to educate parents that attendance is mandatory in these programs once the children are signed up. Rusten asked what needed to be done to make the change official. Welch said all that needed to be done was place it on the next board agenda and approve it. He said there were no hurdles from the Texas Education Agency as far as he could tell.Board members David Brandon and Todd Harris both said they agreed with the philosophy behind renaming the school.“I think it will help people coming to our community to understand it is part of our school system,” Harris said. “Some of the new people coming in have not understood that it was an elementary school.”