During the Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees workshop last week, the Board approved their nomination of Dr. Heath Morrison for Texas Superintendent of the Year.
Dr. Morrison began the role of Montgomery ISD Superintendent in July 2020, just a few months into the pandemic when COVID-19 cases were rising, and education officials were grappling with how to re-open schools for in-person instruction. Under his leadership, Montgomery ISD was one of the first districts in Texas to resume in-person learning with 95% of students back in the classroom by October 2020. Drawing from many years of experience as an educator and leader in the private sector, Morrison enlisted community support to create the district’s Pathway to Premier strategic plan. Adopted in June 2021, the plan supports goals focused on five areas: Academic Achievement, School Safety, Operations and Finance, Human Capital, and Communications & Customer Service. The community’s level of engagement during the development of the bold but realistic Pathway to Premier Strategic Plan was unique for MISD. The collaboration during this process helped build community trust in the school district.
Morrison worked with MISD leadership to form a bond task force in early 2022. The task force evaluated the district budget, enrollment, and needs and desires of the community. In May 2022, the Montgomery, Texas community voted to approve a historic $326M bond initiative to benefit all students in Montgomery ISD, addressing the needs that come from significant growth in student enrollment, providing facility upgrades at campuses districtwide and enhancements to the MISD Career and Technical Education programs and facilities. Montgomery ISD’s bond, with three separate propositions, was one of only seven in the state that was passed in its entirety.
Montgomery ISD faces unique challenges funding challenges, receiving approximately $3,000 less per student than the state average. Additionally, Montgomery ISD is often subject to a law referred to as “Robin Hood” where it is required to send a portion of its local property tax revenues back to the state for redistribution. This disparity in per-student funding puts MISD at a significant disadvantage in terms of staff compensation levels and educational programming for students. Dr. Morrison and MISD trustees have worked to communicate this funding challenge to elected officials and adopted a legislative platform aimed at enacting impactful changes to state funding formulas for public schools. Last fall, Dr. Morrison initiated MISD’s Did You Know campaign, sharing information about public school funding in Texas and its impact on MISD. The campaign includes videos, graphics, and other information that was shared with the community in advance of the state’s January 2023 legislative session. The campaign helped the community understand the challenge, empowering them to stand with the district as it works to balance the budget while optimizing compensation and staffing levels and providing MISD students with the educational programming they deserve. Morrison and the MISD trustees have truly championed this initiative, demonstrating leadership and advocacy for the school district and community.
“Montgomery ISD has benefitted tremendously under Dr. Morrison’s leadership,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “During each of the three years of his tenure, he has tackled a critically important project – developing the Pathway to Premier Strategic Plan in 2021, passing the historic $326M bond in 2022, and addressing MISD’s funding challenges with our lawmakers in the current legislative session. He has met every challenge head-on, driven purely by a sense of doing what is best for our students and staff members.”
Morrison’s career has been marked by numerous accolades throughout his years of service. In 2004, he was selected as the Maryland Principal of the Year, he was named Nevada Superintendent of the Year in 2011 and he was the American Association of School Administrators National Superintendent of the Year in 2012.
“We are happy to nominate Dr. Morrison for this honor because, under his leadership, Montgomery ISD has made incredible strides toward improving the district culture,” Board Vice President Laurie Turner said. “He cultivates a harmonious relationship between district leadership and the school board, encouraging us to always act in the best interests of our students and employees. His dedication to garnering community support has created a valuable alliance of folks willing to help the school district in every way possible. His collaborative, all-hands-on-deck approach is the key to helping our students learn and thrive in a safe environment filled with high-quality educators and the tools they need to succeed in Montgomery ISD and beyond.”
Dr. Morrison was humbled by the nomination.
“I tried to talk to the board into not doing this because I am more interested in pursuing recognition for our teachers, administrators, and support staff,” Morrison said. “I am honored to serve Montgomery ISD, doing this important work alongside our trustees and our employees. I am very grateful for this nomination.”
The 2023 Texas Superintendent of the Year will be announced in September.