Montgomery Junior High Bears Get Creative

MJH Sixth grade advanced science classes built Rube Goldberg Machines at the end of their unit on energy and motion.  Rube Goldberg machines are creative and complex machines designed to complete simple jobs.  The students were tasked with designing a machine that would turn off a light. We see a “bright” future ahead for these aspiring engineers.

Board of Trustees Meeting Recap: Jan. 19, 2021

Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees Adopts 2021 Legislative Platform

Board also approves 2021-22 academic calendar and extends Superintendent’s contract

During its January regular meeting, the Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees adopted a district legislative platform for the 87th Texas Legislature. Texas lawmakers convened at the State Capitol in Austin for their 140-day Regular Legislative Session on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The Montgomery ISD legislative platform focuses on school finance reform, assessment and accountability, additional support from the state as school districts continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, local control and school safety.

“Our board is ready and eager to work with state lawmakers as they seek to address the growing educational demands of Texas children,” Trustee Mike Hopkins said. “Every proposed education policy change at the State Capitol will have an impact on classroom instruction and student achievement, so we want to ensure the voice of our community is heard as lawmakers consider legislation this year.”

The MISD legislative platform requests the legislature maintain funding set in House Bill 3 during the 2019 legislative session and continue to explore improvements to the methods by which Texas public schools are funded. House Bill 3 made a number of enhancements to the state’s Foundation School Program, including an increase to the state’s basic allotment, funding for full-day pre-kindergarten, an expansion of Career and Technical Education program funding and increases to special funding weights and allotments.

“This session, lawmakers can build upon the momentum and progress they made in 2019 as it relates to reforming our state’s outdated method for funding public schools and lessening the burden the current system places on local property taxpayers,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “Educators across the state have courageously stepped up for our students during an incredibly challenging school year. Now, we’re urging our elected officials to do the same.”

Preserving local control in addressing student and community needs is also included in the board’s legislative platform. Trustees are requesting that flexibilities provided to districts designated as a “District of Innovation” be maintained.

 “School districts are considered ‘independent’ in Texas,” Trustee Trey Kirby said. “Our legislative platform prioritizes the importance local decision-making to ensure that each action taken by our board meets and serves the best interest of the unique needs of our students, staff and community.”

Also during their meeting, trustees adopted the district’s academic calendar for the 2021-22 school year.

The 2021-22 academic calendar was developed in conjunction with the District Advisory Committee (DAC), which is comprised of over 40 teachers, staff members, parents, and community members. Five initial calendar options were developed by the DAC. After receiving input from across the district’s 10 campuses, the DAC narrowed the calendar options down to two in December, which were presented to the public for input in the form of a survey. There were over 3,500 responses to the survey, with 57% of respondents preferring the calendar option adopted by the board of trustees. The first day of the 2021-22 school year will be Thursday, Aug. 12.

Trustees also voted to extend the contract of Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison by one year, through August 2025. The terms outlined in the Superintendent’s contract remain the same.

“From the moment Dr. Morrison arrived in Montgomery, he has shown his commitment to this community,” Trustee Linda Porten said. “While he didn’t request any changes to the terms of his existing contract, we believe this extension conveys a unified support from the board for the work being performed under his leadership.”

Trustees commended Dr. Morrison for his work during his time of entry as Superintendent, which included listening, learning, and engaging with the community. They also applauded his efforts to create greater transparency and improve district communication with parents, staff and stakeholders.

 “As a board, we’re extremely excited about the direction the district is headed under the leadership of Dr. Morrison,” Trustee Laurie Turner said. “By extending the Superintendent’s contract, we want to send the community a message of confidence and board unity. Together, as a board, district and community, we’re poised to do incredible things for Montgomery ISD students and staff.”

The MISD Minute: Friday, Jan. 15, 2021

A Year of Flexibility

Dear Team MISD,

I want to thank you all for your patience this past Sunday as we wrestled with the difficult decision to close schools and district offices on Monday due to the hazardous road conditions resulting from the winter storm.

In many ways, closing schools due to weather is one of the most difficult responsibilities of a school district superintendent, and I never take these decisions lightly. After consulting with Montgomery County officials and neighboring superintendents throughout the day on Sunday and tracking the storm conditions and weather patterns, we felt it was in the best safety interest of our students, families and staff to close on Monday. Safety is always at the forefront when faced with the difficult decision to close schools due to weather.

Additionally, while each scenario presents different obstacles, we will always put forward our best effort to make final decisions on school closures with adequate time for staff and families to make plans for the following day. We will always communicate as much information as we can, as quickly as possible.

Of course, due to the schedule change on Monday, we will need to make up the instructional minutes later this semester to ensure we meet the number required by the state. Below, I outline the schedule change, which we were able to accomplish without adding an additional school day to our 2020-21 calendar.

Thank you all for your continued flexibility this school year. Please have a restful and safe holiday weekend.

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Inclement Weather Closure – Schedule Change

Due to the inclement weather closure on Monday, we need to make an adjustment to our second semester calendar in order to meet the state required number of instructional minutes. We are making the following changes:

  • For elementary campuses, there will no longer be an early release day on Wednesday, March 10. Elementary student dismissal on Wednesday, March 10 will now be at the regularly scheduled time.
  • For secondary campuses, there will no longer be a late arrival day on Wednesday, April, 21. Secondary student arrival on Wednesday, April, 21 will now be at the regularly scheduled time.

Please note that with these changes, we have avoided the need to add an additional school day to the calendar. The last day of school remains Tuesday, May 25.

COVID-19 Rapid Testing and Vaccines

The health, safety and well-being of students and staff is always our top priority. I’m happy to announce that voluntary COVID-19 Rapid Testing has begun and is now available for all MISD students and staff. Please know that we are providing the tests, which are available at no cost, as a courtesy. At no time with COVID-19 testing be mandatory. You can learn more about COVID-19 Rapid Testing eligibility and schedule an appointment to receive a test by clicking here.

We are still in the process of learning more about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccinations approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, once available, we have been informed that FDA-approved vaccines will be available free of charge in all TRS-ActiveCare plans. Similar to testing, barring any future state requirements, the district will not require employees or students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment or enrollment.

You can learn more about COVID-19 vaccines here and TRS ActiveCare here.

87th Texas Legislative Session Update

State lawmakers convened for the 87th Texas Legislative Session on Tuesday, January 12.

The stakes are always high for public education during a Texas legislative session. Not only is public education roughly half of the state’s budget, in addition, because the Texas legislature only meets every other year, lawmakers are tasked with the difficult job of crafting a state budget for two years. This means that, in the weeks ahead, lawmakers will debate, and ultimately determine how much state funding will be allocated to schools for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years.

This year, lawmakers are confronting some budget challenges primarily due to negative impact COVID-19 has had on our state’s economy. Public education supporters across the state will be urging lawmakers to avoid cuts to our schools as they grapple with balancing the state’s budget. It’s important that our community have a voice in the legislative process, because every policy change lawmakers make to public education statutes ultimately have an impact on student achievement. That’s why I’m proud of the fact that our Board of Trustees is working on a legislative platform to provide Montgomery ISD with that voice.

The Board is scheduled to adopt a set of legislative priorities for the district during its board meeting next week, which will effectively outline the district’s position on the various education-related policy issues lawmakers will tackle this year, like school finance, assessment and accountability, school safety, and COVID-19. I’ll provide you with more information on the district’s legislative platform and how you can get involved next week. I strongly encourage you all to stay informed on what is happening at the capitol this year.

MISD Board Meeting – Tuesday, January 19

The MISD Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet for its January regular meeting on Tuesday, January 19. Most notably, trustees will consider adopting the 2021-22 academic calendar and a district legislative platform to present to state lawmakers.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the board auditorium of the MISD Education Support Center.

You can learn more about the MISD Board, view meetings agendas and watch board meetings on our district website, or by clicking here.

District Advisory Meeting – Academic Calendar Process

The District Advisory Committee (DAC) met this week to finalize the academic calendar recommendation process. The DAC is a group of over 40 individuals who represent all MISD campuses. They are teachers, parents, staff members and community leaders.

The DAC convened for its first academic calendar meeting in October, and through multiple subcommittees containing parents and staff, five calendar options were developed for consideration by stakeholders across the district. After receiving input on all five calendar options, the DAC narrowed the calendar options down to two in December.

Between Dec. 17, 2020 and Jan. 8, 2021, the two academic calendar options were presented to MISD parents, staff and community members in the form of a survey for input. There were a total of 3,542 responses to the survey, with 57% of respondents preferring calendar Option A, and 43% preferring option B.

Based on the input received in the survey, DAC is recommending academic calendar option A to the Board of Trustees for approval next week.

Please note that instructional minutes in any adopted calendar may be subject to administrative adjustment based on the future requirements relating to remote learning, COVID-19 conditions, weather-related closures and considering the needs of teachers and students. Should we determine a need to adjust instructional minutes, the DAC will be consulted on the proposed adjustment and the changes will be brought back to the Board of Trustees.

I want to thank all who had a hand in the academic calendar development and recommendation process.

Lake Creek Senior Featured on FOX26 Houston’s ‘Making the Grade

On Monday, Jan. 11 Lake Creek senior Ethan Harper was featured on FOX 26 Houston’s Making the Grade, which is a weekly segment profiling a Houston area student athlete. As a sophomore, Ethan suffered a tragic leg injury in a football game which forced him to miss the remainder of the season. However, despite this setback, Ethan worked incredibly hard to get back on the field, while staying focused in the classroom. His hard work and determination paid off. Earlier this year, Ethan received a “preferred walk on” offer to play football at the University of Southern Mississippi.

You can watch Ethan’s segment on FOX26 Houston here.

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

All MISD schools and district offices will be closed on Monday, Jan. 18 in observance of Martin Luther King Day. As we enter the holiday weekend, I leave you with this quote from Dr. King on the importance of education.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

Helping Young Minds Grow at Lone Star Elementary

Lone Star ES first graders headed to the garden on a chilly Tuesday morning, eager to see the peas, carrots, kale, lettuce, cabbage and radishes growing. Students learned about the life cycle, reproduction and how to properly plant and grow strawberries. While strawberry growing takes a little more planning and work than, say, cultivating lettuce or beans in the vegetable garden, the rewards are well worth the effort!

Keenan ES 1st Grade Remote Learners Are Hands-On

Katelyn Watkins, 1st grade remote teacher at Keenan ES, utilized recent weather as a teachable moment to instruct her students in the properties of the wind. After making their very own windsocks, she challenged her students to post a picture or video of themselves with their windsocks. These young students made incredibly effective windsocks and were able to demonstrate them very well!

You can watch one of the videos made a student here!