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.
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.”