The MISD Minute- Friday, August 20, 2021

Board of Trustees extends COVID leave for employees

This week, the MISD Board of Trustees approved our recommendation to extend COVID leave for employees an additional five days – for a total of 10. Employees may use these days if they have tested positive for COVID-19 cases or if they have come into close contact with an individual in their household who has tested positive for COVID-19. This action by our board continues a trend of our district taking a lead in prioritizing employee health and well-being throughout this pandemic. We were one of the first school districts in the state to extend COVID leave last year after the federal requirement expired on December 31 and we were one of the first in the region to extend such leave this year. We hope this action provides employees with some comfort as we continue to be challenged by the impact of this pandemic. 

I know that all of us hoped that with COVID rates declining over the summer and the availability of vaccines, that the impact of this pandemic would lessen this school year. Unfortunately, local and state positivity rates continue to climb. We will continue to follow our established health protocols and ask all staff and students to remember the most important aspect of these plans call for personal responsibility; if someone is sick, they should stay home. Additionally, we are doing everything we can with continuing to offer rapid testing and vaccination opportunities for staff and students. Research suggests that the most effective measures while indoors are to social distance as much as possible, wash hands frequently and wear a mask. While masks are optional in Montgomery ISD this year, we want to make sure all staff and students feel comfortable and supported in whatever decision they make.

At a time when these issues have become divisive, let’s demonstrate that we will come together as one team – one path forward.

Dr. Heath Morrison

District hires architectural firm to begin possible bond election

After completing the district’s facilities assessment this past spring, Texas-based architectural firm Huckabee has been selected as the building and planning partner while Montgomery ISD begins the process of preparing for a possible May 2022 bond election. The district will be creating a citizens’ advisory bond committee complete with MISD parents, staff and business and community leaders to help plan and create the scope for a potential bond.

The citizens’ advisory bond committee will meet often, research and assess our district’s needs, and collect data that will assist them in creating a schedule and a budget for potential projects to be considered. The committee will send surveys to all district families, continue to monitor the rapid growth and expansion in our community and seek to assure that any potential bond brought forward will positively benefit all of those working and attending schools in MISD.

As the planning continues and the real work begins, the district will seek transparency in the vision and prioritization and will make sure that any possible bond brought forward is not only the district’s bond, but also the community’s bond. As we seek to be the Premier school district in the state of Texas, it is important that our community is beside us and an integral part of any bond process.

MISD to adopt Culture of Respect: Be ONE Team

As explained at the board meeting Tuesday evening, in order to be successful in our mission as a district, we need our current staff to feel respected and heard and have confidence that each member is a contributing partner to ensuring that MISD has a strong employee culture of respect. Through interactions with staff of Montgomery ISD, many employees have brought up “culture” and “respect,” with many of the concerns being centered around respect. The different responses varied from how employees treat and speak to each other, as well as how individuals feel that their role in the district is valued. When employees have concerns, they need to feel comfortable sharing them, and confident that their concerns will be received with empathy and understanding. We need our district culture to be one that provides this level of respect that every employee is deserving of receiving.

Every single member of Team Montgomery matters, and we don’t just want those to be words. We want it to be known and felt by each of our employees. In the near future, we will be launching our awareness campaign with a committee formed consisting of all levels of our employee base. We will be listening first. Committee members chosen will be individuals who can be honest and open when reflecting on the data that is collected through surveys sent out district-wide. Our administration knows that there are employees who directly teach, and those who directly support the teaching that takes place in MISD. Our goal in this campaign is to make sure that the culture in Montgomery ISD provides security and affirms that the work our employees do, and the way they are made to feel while doing it, is always valuable.

District Highlight: Montgomery ISD Maintenance Department

As we have started a new school year, it’s important for us to make sure we recognize those groups that directly impact our ability to effectively educate the students of Montgomery ISD. At Tuesday night’s board meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Kris Lynn took the opportunity to recognize the district’s maintenance department and their Director, Joe Kinard.

Each member of the maintenance team was recognized for their continued efforts and hard work ethic to get our campuses ready for the 2021-2022 school year. As a part of our Culture of Respect campaign, it’s important that we recognize all members of our staff and the work that it requires of each department to help a district be successful. The Montgomery ISD maintenance department is an exceptional group of men and women that we are thankful to have serving the staff and students in MISD.

House Bill 4545 adds accelerated instruction requirements to curriculum

This past summer, the Texas Legislature passed HB 4545 requiring accelerated instruction services for all students during the 2021-2022 school year, based on STAAR results from Spring 2021. For each of our students that did not take or meet requirements of the STAAR test in grades 3, 5 and 8, an accelerated learning committee must be formed including the student’s parent, the campus principal or their designee, and the teacher for the subject area in which the child did not pass. This committee is tasked with creating an accelerated instruction plan to best enable the student to perform on grade level by the conclusion of the school year.

The guidance laid out in HB 4545 for accelerated instruction will continue to take effect through subsequent school years and will require an intense look at master schedules, high-impact tutoring programs, and data systems used to track student success. As we take these steps to follow these guidelines and serve the students in our district that need this extra level of academic intervention, it’s important that we always continue to focus on educating the whole child, emotionally, physically, mentally and academically.

Our Curriculum and Instruction Team provided the Board of Trustees with an overview of the new law in a presentation during the Board Meeting on Tuesday. You can watch the HB 4545 presentation during the board meeting here.

Lake Creek Theatre Director receives Golden Apple award

Montgomery ISD is proud to announce that Lake Creek theatre director Mr. Ramirez has been honored by the Texas Thespian Board of Directors and has received the Golden Apple Award for leading a stellar theatre program. This award was established to honor those adults who have 10 or more years of service by dedicating themselves to promoting Texas educational theatre. The recipient of the Golden Apple is chosen for his or her dedication to theatre performance in Texas and to the aims and ideals of the Educational Theatre Association, as well as their contributions to continued standards of excellence in Texas theatre.

We are very fortunate to have Mr. Ramirez working with the students at Lake Creek High School and appreciate his dedication to his students and the theatre department.