Dear Team MISD,
It was a busy week in Montgomery ISD!
On Tuesday, the MISD Board of Trustees met for their January meeting. Highlights of the meeting include the adoption of the 2021-22 academic calendar, a district legislative platform, and approval of a comprehensive facilities assessment on district buildings. Trustees also approved a Board Resolution to ensure that employees who were scheduled to work on the inclement weather closure day on Jan. 11 are compensated. I’ll cover a few of these topics in greater detail in this week’s MISD Minute.
It was important for the board to approve a comprehensive facilities assessment on Tuesday. In order for our district to maintain the high quality campuses, buildings and facilities that our community expects, a third-party assessment of our buildings is needed to ensure we keep our facilities safe and welcoming places for learning.
In addition to these important actions taken by our Board, trustees also voted to extend my contract as Superintendent for one year, through August 2025. I’m incredibly grateful for the confidence our Board is showing in the direction our district is headed by taking this action. I did not request any change to the terms of my existing contract, as I remain laser-focused in our budget process on increasing employee compensation throughout the district.
Please see the remainder of this week’s MISD Minute for updates on things happening around the district!
Dr. Heath Morrison
School Board Recognition Month
Throughout the month of January, which is School Board Recognition Month, we have been thanking and honoring our Board of Trustees for their service to our community and district. This year’s theme for School Board Recognition month across Texas is “Navigating to Success.” I want to thank all of you who have joined us in recognizing the service of our board and thanking them for leadership in navigating us through this unprecedented school year.
During Tuesday’s Board meeting, we showed the above video, which contains a special message to our trustees from students across the district. Again, please join me in showing your appreciation for our seven elected school board members!
Strategic Plan Town Hall Meeting
We are in the process of developing a three-year Strategic Plan for the district based on the Board’s five adopted goals:
- Goal 1: Academics
- Goal 2: Safety
- Goal 3: Operations and Finance
- Goal 4: Human Capital
- Goal 5: Communications and Customer Service
From the onset of this process, I have said that I want this Strategic Plan to truly be the community’s plan. With that in mind, we want to gather as much input, from as many stakeholders as possible. Over the next three months, we will hold three Strategic Plan Town Hall meetings. We encourage any interested employees to attend and share their perspectives on how we can further improve our district through the Strategic Plan. We want all employees to have the opportunity to provide input on the direction of MISD.
Please join us for our first Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting next Thursday, Jan. 28 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Montgomery HS.
If you’re unable to attend, there will be an option to participate remotely. We’ll share details on remote participation next week.
At Tuesday’s Board meeting, trustees adopted the 2021-22 academic calendar.
I want to thank the members of the District Advisory Committee (DAC) for leading this process and making the final calendar recommendation to our Board. Also, thanks to all parents, staff and community members who provided input on the DAC’s proposed academic calendars through our district survey that was open from mid-December through early January. Over 3,500 district stakeholders provided input, with 57% of respondents preferring the calendar option that was adopted by the board.
During the board’s vote on the calendar on Tuesday evening, I was thankful when Trustee Laurie Turner publicly recognized and commended the clarity and transparency of the calendar recommendation process. Our goal is to always provide as much information as we possibly can, in a clear and transparent manner.
Once again, I want to remind everyone that instructional minutes in the adopted calendar may be subject to administrative adjustment based on the future state requirements relating to remote learning, COVID-19 conditions, weather-related closures and considering the needs of teachers and students.
You can see the 2021-22 academic calendar here.
MISD Legislative Platform
I’m excited to share that for the first time in the history of our district, our Board of Trustees has adopted a Legislative Platform as state lawmakers enter the 87th Texas Legislative Session.
This action taken by our trustees is an example of work that gets us to being The Premier School District in Texas, and I’m proud that our Board will be working to ensure that the voice of Montgomery ISD will be heard in the legislative process.
Each legislative session, state lawmakers consider hundreds of bills relating to public education. Our board wants to ensure that the needs of our students and teachers are considered as Texas lawmakers make changes to public education.
The 2021 MISD Legislative Platform addresses the following items, which we are calling the “Five Pillars” of the platform:
State lawmakers made incredible strides towards improving how Texas public schools are funded through the passage of House Bill 3 in 2019. We’re asking that lawmakers not derail this momentum by implementing funding cuts to our schools in addressing the budget issues imposed on our state’s economy by COVID. Further, we’re asking that lawmakers explore ideas that would support a more sustainable school finance system that lowers the burden on property taxes to fund schools.
State Assessment and Accountability
Earlier this year, the Texas Education Agency announced that all schools and districts will receive a “Not Rated” designation under state accountability this year. Given the challenges associated with the pandemic, we’re thankful for this decision. While STAAR scores will not count this year for state accountability purposes, we believe it’s still important to administer the test this spring in order to get a baseline understanding of where our students are academically, so we can appropriately address any learning loss due to the pandemic.
We’re also asking lawmakers to continue to focus on how state accountability is measured to ensure that instructional practice is aligned, but not driven by state assessments.
We’re asking for continued support from the state as we work through the challenges associated with COVID-19 in meeting the needs of all children. The TEA’s Operation Connectivity program has provided tremendous support to our district, and we would like to see this program remain in place in the long-term as we potentially move forward with remote options for certain students.
As a district with the “District of Innovation” designation with the Texas Education Agency, we’re afforded additional flexibilities in local decision-making in areas like school start date and filling high demand teacher vacancies with industry professionals. We’re asking that these local flexibilities remain in place, and that our elected school boards are further empowered to make decisions that best meet the needs of their communities.
Keeping our students and staff safe is always our top priority. Therefore, any legislative platform our district develops should include school safety. We’re asking for support in securing buildings and creating safe school environments, and requesting support as we work to meet the mental health needs of students. Securing campuses and addressing the socio-emotional needs of students are both critical components to ensuring schools are safe places where effective academic instruction can occur.
So, what’s next? Well, over the next several weeks state lawmakers will meet and debate legislation at the State Capitol in Austin. They will hear thousands of bills, with many having large implications on school district operations, teacher pay, classroom instruction and curriculum and ultimately, student achievement. You can track legislation being considered at the Capitol here.
You can read the full MISD Legislative Platform here.