District legislative platform addresses school funding concerns
The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees held a regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 18, 2022. During the meeting, trustees voted to approve the district’s legislative platform in advance of the 88th Texas Legislature. The legislative platform adopted by the Board encompasses three main areas: School Funding, School Safety and Local Control.
“The development of priorities outlined in this platform has truly been a journey,” Board Vice-President Laurie Turner said. “As a Board and leadership team, we have spent a considerable amount of time studying how our district receives state funding compared to other districts across Texas, and there are many areas within the state’s school finance system that present significant challenges for Montgomery ISD. This platform addresses some of our most urgent issues, and we have had very productive conversations with our legislative delegation leading up to this moment.”
The district’s top priority encourages state lawmakers to reinstate legislation that was put into law by HB 7 in 2015 but subsequently removed from law in 2019. HB 7 offered additional financial assistance to school districts that had maintained maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rates below the state’s maximum tax rate ($1.50 per $100 of assessed value) prior to a statewide reduction – or “compression” – of $0.50 enacted by lawmakers in 2006. Montgomery ISD maintained an M&O tax rate of $1.457 when the $0.50 compression was adopted in 2006. As a result of the elimination of HB 7 in 2019, Montgomery ISD has experienced funding losses and a widening gap in terms of per-student funding when compared to the state average. Before the elimination of HB 7, Montgomery ISD was receiving approximately $2,000 less than the state average in terms of per-student funding. Since its elimination, that gap has grown to nearly $3,000 per student.
“School districts like Montgomery ISD have effectively been penalized for maintaining conservative tax rates, and our proposed legislation aims to mitigate this loss in funding,” Trustee Trey Kirby said. “During the next legislative session, we have an outstanding opportunity to work with our state lawmakers to change the trajectory of school finance in Texas to ensure fair funding for all school districts. Just as important, the legislation we are putting forward to our lawmakers ensures Montgomery ISD does not continue to fall further behind the state average in per-student funding, impacting our ability to balance our budget, attract, retain and grow high-quality educators, and fund educational programs important to our students.”
Lawmakers return to Austin in January 2023 for the state’s 88th regular legislative session.
“The silver lining for MISD is that we have incredibly strong representation in Austin,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “Senator Creighton, Senator Kolkhorst and Representative Metcalf understand these issues, and we are grateful for how receptive each of them has been to our outreach. Over the next several weeks, we will educate our community and continue to engage with our lawmakers leading up to the legislative session.”
You can read more about the district’s legislative platform here.
There were also several special recognitions during the meeting. The board recognized MISD Fishing Team members Fallon Clepper and Wyatt Ford, winners of the Bass Federation Student Angler National Championship, held this past summer in Lake Pickwick, Alabama. This was a historic accomplishment for the pair, becoming the first Co-Ed team to win the national title. Clepper and Ford beat 235 other teams from 40 states, earning $240,000 in scholarship opportunities.
“I continue to be amazed by the outstanding achievements of students in Montgomery ISD, whether they are in the classroom, on the playing field, or even out on the lake,” Trustee Nate Robb said. “It is awesome to say that national champions attend school and live in Montgomery, Texas!”
Finally, in observance of National Principal’s Month in October, the trustees honored MISD’s principals for their leadership on MISD campuses and commitment to MISD students and staff members.
“In my years of having the privilege of serving as a school district superintendent, it has been very apparent that all great schools have one very important quality in common – an outstanding principal,” Morrison said. “Our district is blessed with amazing campus leaders who work passionately every day to meet the needs of students and families. I could not be more grateful for their leadership.”