The MISD Minute – April 9, 2021

Important Update on High School Graduation Ceremonies

I wanted to provide you with an update on high school graduation ceremonies.

The date of our graduation ceremonies are scheduled for Monday, May 24 at 7 p.m. for Lake Creek HS and Tuesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. for Montgomery HS.

After consulting with both campus principals, and taking into consideration the desire of our graduates to have flexibility in the number of guests they may invite, we have decided to adjust our plans and move forward with an outdoor graduation ceremony at the Montgomery ISD Athletics Football Stadium. 

District administration had been working with the principals and administration teams at both high schools to plan indoor graduation ceremonies at Sam Houston State University that would allow graduates to invite multiple guests. However, we were recently informed by the university that capacity at the ceremonies would be limited to 25% attendance with strict social distancing measures in place. As a result, continuing with the ceremonies at Sam Houston State University would limit guests to no more than three per graduate and restrict other graduation features like having bands in attendance. Throughout this year, seniors at both high schools expressed to me that flexible attendance and having traditional graduation ceremony features in place, like the bands, were top priorities for them.

The dates and times of our graduation ceremonies are unchanged.

Moving the graduation ceremonies to the Montgomery ISD Football Stadium will allow for much greater flexibility in the number of guests our graduates may invite. We firmly believe that although outdoors, a graduation ceremony at the MISD Athletics stadium will provide our graduates and their families with the memorable experience they deserve.

We’re excited to plan an exciting graduation ceremony for our seniors More details, including a contingency plan should weather impact the outdoor ceremony will be shared by each campus in the coming weeks.

Thank you for your continued flexibility.

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Superintendent

MISD Master Teacher Cohort Celebrates Completion

This week, the MISD Master Teacher Cohort Class of 2018 celebrated the completion of the two-year program!

The pandemic delayed a few of the activities involved, but these persistent teachers refined their skills in the areas of content, pedagogy, and technology.  The cohort sessions included in-person trainings, virtual experiences, book studies, and peer observations, and each member earned additional technology for their classroom. It was a valuable learning experience for all, and we are proud of their accomplishments!  

Congratulations to the MISD Master Teach Cohort Class of 2018!

Heather Brown, Cheryl Hartner, Katye Hight, Matthew Monk, Robin Riley, Cindy Siple, Leah Taska, Carolyn Veillon, Sarah Wieghat, Tanya Gardner, Kerrie Johnson, Melissa Nordstrom, Nicole Petillo, Kristin Stevenson, Sheradon Sullivan, and Jennifer Gerbrecht

Superintendent Shout-Out – Montgomery HS Choir Earns National Recognition

This week’s Superintendent Shout-Out goes to Heather Orr and the Montgomery HS Choir!

The MHS choir has received the “Best Communities for Music Education” recognition from the NAMM Foundation! Through this recognition, MHS earned the 2021 Support Music Music Merit Award through the Best Communities for Music Education. 

What makes this award special is that there are only 80 high schools in the nation that earned the Music Merit Award. 

You can read more about this outstanding achievement here.

Way to go, MHS Choir!

MISD Board of Trustees Candidate Forum

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I want to send a special thank you to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce for hosting an outstanding Board of Trustees Candidate Forum on Tuesday evening at Lake Creek High School. This was an outstanding opportunity for our community to attend and hear first-hand from the individuals seeking to serve on our Board of Trustees. I’m thankful to all who participated in this event by attending in-person, submitting questions for the candidates, or watching it on Facebook Live.

You can watch the recording of the forum here.

Statewide STAAR Online Testing Issue

Thank you to our students, teachers and staff for their patience and flexibility on Monday when the Texas Education Agency’s online testing vendor experienced statewide outages. The issues experienced by TEA’s vendor did not affect students taking the STAAR on paper. Unfortunately, this was a statewide issue, and completely out of the district’s control. The TEA canceled testing on Monday while their vendor worked to resolve the issues. Campuses will keep you updated as it pertains to the re-scheduled test date.

The MISD Minute – April 1, 2021

“Budget Road Show” Complete

This week, we completed our “Budget Road Show”, having now met with staff from all 10 campuses as well as the district office to discuss our work to develop the district’s 2021-22 budget recommendation to the Board of Trustees. As I stated during each of these meetings, meaningful improvements to employee pay has been – and remains – our top priority as we work to finalize a budget recommendation to the Board. I want to thank each of you who asked questions, provided input and gave comments during these discussions. Your critical feedback empowers me and my leadership team to improve how we serve you and our students. You have my full commitment of continued transparency and collaboration through the budget process.

It is our plan to bring forward to the Board of Trustees a proposed district compensation plan at the April 20 Board meeting. Putting a compensation plan forward now, rather than at the conclusion of the budget process, allows employees to have an understanding of what their compensation will look like heading into the next school year. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.

I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss are plans regarding an enhanced district compensation plan beginning in the 2021-22 school year.

As a reminder, all schools and district offices will be closed on Friday, April 2.

Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Superintendent

Wendy Graves is retiring in August

It is with a wide range of emotions to announce that, after three decades of outstanding service to Montgomery ISD, Wendy Graves is retiring in August 2021. While we are sad to be losing a valued colleague, we celebrate her many accomplishments in the district and are excited about the next step in her leadership journey.

Wendy is in her 30th year with the district, having started her career in education as a teacher at Montgomery HS. She went on to become an assistant principal at Montgomery Intermediate School before being named principal of Montgomery Elementary School, a role she served in for 10 years. Wendy has achieve countless incredible accomplishments throughout her career, but perhaps the greatest was while a principal at Montgomery Elementary School. Under her leadership, MES became the district’s first ever Blue Ribbon School – a highly prestigious and coveted national honor awarded to schools for academic excellence and closing achievement gaps. Wendy was eventually named the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary, where she has spent the previous 10 years.

Over the past year, I have learned that Wendy’s knowledge, experience, selflessness and countless contributions to our district are what make her such an incredible leader in our district. She has been a trusted member of my leadership team and I am grateful for her many contributions during my first year as superintendent.

Please join me in congratulating and thanking Wendy Graves for her service to Montgomery ISD. We wish her all the best as she enters her next chapter.

Efforts to re-open campuses

Over the last several weeks, district administration has been working with principals and campus leadership to bring back a sense of normalcy for students and families on campuses. During the March Board meeting, I announced to trustees that this work had been underway, and I’m excited to let you know that many pre-COVID activities are returning, including proms, field days, Kindergarten and 5th grade celebrations, and volunteers on campus. This school year continues to present unique, unprecedented challenges. As we work diligently to close out this school year strong, it’s important that we continue to find ways to safely restore student, family and volunteer activities in our district.

MISD Education Foundation’s Together We Grow Community Fundraiser

As a reminder, the MISD Education Foundation is holding its first community fundraiser, Together We Grow, on Saturday, April 24 from 7-11 p.m. The event will take place outdoors at the Old Community Center in Historic Montgomery. This is a casual, adult night out with live music featuring the band Rapture and a BBQ dinner catered by locally owned Jr’s.

Together We Grow is a remodeled version of the Foundation’s annual Gala. Our Foundation board members, especially Jessica Grace and Shannan Reid have worked tirelessly on behalf of our district to make this a successful fundraiser for their scholarship and teacher grant programs.

There is also a competition to award one Montgomery ISD Principal with a $2,000 grant for a campus “Hustle Project”. You can help a campus win by sharing the ticket link and encouraging people to buy campus sponsorship tickets for the “Hustle Project” they would like to receive the grant. A video of each campus “Hustle Project” can be viewed here.

I encourage all employees to show their support for the Foundation by attending this event on April 24! Tickets to the event can be purchased here.

Superintendent Shout-Out: Lake Creek HS Varsity Softball

The Lake Creek Varsity Softball team is turning heads attracting some serious statewide attention, having improved their record to 24-0 after defeating Caney Creek this past Tuesday. The Lions are currently ranked #1 in the Area, and #2 in Texas and #18 in the nation according to MaxPreps. I want to give Head Coach Michelle Rochinski and the entire team a Superintendent Shout-Out for the amazing run they have put together so far this season!

The Lions take on New Caney tonight (4/1) at 6:15 p.m. at Lake Creek HS. Get out and support the Lions as they go for 25 in a row!

The Lake Creek Varsity Softball team and all other spring sports schedules can be viewed here.

Thank You HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe!

I would like to send a special thank you to HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe and CEO Matt Davis for their generosity this week in providing every Montgomery ISD employee with a lunch from Joe’s Italian Restaurant in Conroe. On Monday and Tuesday, Matt Davis and his leadership team personally delivered the lunches to all schools and district offices! I am incredibly grateful for this kind gesture to our hard-working employees and appreciate our partnership with HCA Houston Healthcare.

The MISD Minute – Friday, March 26, 2021

Ready For a Strong Finish

I hope you all had a wonderful Spring Break with a chance to relax and recharge in preparation for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

This week, we were back in full swing at the District Office with a monthly Board of Trustees meeting, four “budget road show” meetings and a COVID-19 vaccination event for employees. I would like to send a special thank you to all who made this vaccination event opportunity possible for our employees.

I’m enjoying the opportunity to speak with campus employees during our budget update meetings. So far, I’ve had meetings at Stewart Creek, Lone Star, Keenan, Lincoln and Montgomery Schools, and Montgomery Junior High School. Next week, we’ll wrap up the meetings with stops at Oak Hills Junior High School, Madeley Ranch Elementary School, and Lake Creek and Montgomery High Schools. It has been a privilege to present to you the process we are going through to provide meaningful, across-the-board pay increases for employees. Your feedback during these meetings has been beneficial and improves our ability to better serve you.

Next week, all MISD employees will be provided a free lunch meal from Joe’s Italian Restaurant courtesy of HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe! We’re very grateful for this kind gesture from HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe and CEO Matt Davis, who is a parent in our district. I’m grateful for his organization’s partnership and generosity this year. Below is when each staff group will receive their meal next week:

Monday, March 29: Maintenance, Transportation (Liberty St. Location), Lincoln ES, Madeley Ranch ES, Montgomery ES, Montgomery Jr. HS, Montgomery HS, Stewart Creek ES

Tuesday, March 30: District office, Transportation (Bear Cub Dr. Location), Keenan ES, Lake Creek HS, Lone Star ES, Oak Hills Jr. HS.

Below you will find a few important updates on issues and events happening around the district. Please take a few moments to read this week’s MISD Minute to stay current on important district-related items. We have reached the “home stretch” of the 2020-21 school year, and I look forward to working together for ensure a strong finish!

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Superintendent

March Board of Trustees Meeting

On Tuesday, the MISD Trustees met for their regular monthly Board meeting.

The Board took action on a few important items, including the issue of district health protocols in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-34, which rescinded the statewide mask mandate and delegated authority over school district health protocols to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). In response, TEA advised school districts that mask mandates should remain in place, but allowed a board of trustees to remove or modify a district’s mask-wearing policy through an official vote. TEA also urged school district’s to consult with local public health officials when making this decision.

The MISD board of trustees voted to keep the district’s current health protocols in place through the end of the 2020-21 school year and authorized me as Superintendent to remove the district’s mask-wearing requirement on May 31, 2021.

Following the Board meeting, Board President Fuller sent a letter to parents and staff outlining the decision and explaining how it was reached. There were several factors that drove this difficult decision, but the main focus of the board was ensuring that schools could remain open and student activities could continue to thrive for the remainder of the school year. If you have not yet read Board President Fuller’s letter, I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to read it here.

Please know that this was not an easy decision for our trustees, or one they took lightly. In fact, the final decision had not yet been made as of Tuesday afternoon prior to the board meeting. Our students, staff and community all have very strong opinions on this issue, and I want to thank all who took the time to make their voices heard. I also want to thank our Board of Trustees for their continued leadership.

It goes without saying that, while our district health protocols have ensured that campuses have remained open and student activities have been able to occur, they have posed unique challenges in staff, students and their families. I urge you to continue to exercise compassion and grace when addressing health protocols and the topic of masks with your students.

Revision to 2021-22 Academic Calendar

In addition to addressing health protocols, the board also adopted a minor revision to the 2020-21 academic calendar.

After reviewing the operational minutes in the previously adopted 2021-22 calendar, we determined that an adjustment was necessary in order to account for the possibility of a school-day closure next year. Under the previously adopted calendar, we would not have had the necessary operational minutes to make up any canceled school days, meaning the school year would need to be extended should we need to close schools for any reason. This year alone, with hurricanes, brown-outs and other weather events, our school year would have needed to be extended into June had we not had additional operational minutes built into our academic calendar.

Restoring 15 minutes to the operational day for the 2021-22 school year resolves this issue. It’s important to note that these operational minutes are similar to what has been in place historically in our district, and that the number of staff work days – or daily duty hours – does not change with this revision.

The revised school hours for the 2021-22 school year are as follows:

Secondary: 7:15 a.m. – 2:40 p.m.

Elementary: 8:15 a.m. – 3:40 p.m.

The 2021-22 academic calendar can be viewed here.

The full video of the March Board of Trustees meeting can view watched below.

National Nutrition Month

At this week’s Board meeting, trustees and district administration gave a special recognition to our hard-working, dedicated Child Nutrition staff. March is National Nutrition Month, so this week’s board meeting was a great opportunity to thank our child nutrition employees for service to our children and families. The work they perform behind the scenes each day to keep children fed and well-nourished is a vital component to our efforts to ensure academic excellence for all students.

Please take a few minutes to watch the video below highlighting some of the great work of our Child Nutrition Department!

Superintendent Shout-Out: Montgomery High School Senior Kalani Hayden

This week I want to send a shout-out to MHS Senior Kalani Hayden!

Kalani, who is a member of my Superintendent’s Student Leadership Council at MHS, made her voice heard by speaking on the issue of district health protocols during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s board meeting. Kalani gave a heart-felt, passionate viewpoint of her opinion on district health protocols and impressed all who were in attendance. It took an incredible amount of courage for Kalani to speak publicly at the board meeting, and I could not be more proud of how she represented herself and her peers.

Kalani is a phenomenal leader who has a bright future ahead!

Final Strategic Plan Town Hall Meeting – April 27 at Montgomery Jr. High School

Please mark your calendars for the final MISD strategic plan town hall meeting on Tuesday, April 27 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at Montgomery Junior High School. This is a final opportunity to provide your input on targeted items and issues the district should prioritize over the next several years in alignment with the Board’s five adopted goals: Academic Achievement, School Safety, Finance and Operations, Human Capital, and Communications and Customer Service.

The Montgomery ISD Strategic Plan will be finalized in May after we’ve had the opportunity to hold this town hall meeting on April 27.

Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce supports the MISD Education Foundation’s ‘Together We Grow’ community fundraiser

The Montgomery business community’s support is a vital part of what makes our school district successful.  Montgomery ISD is thankful for the ongoing partnership that the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce (MACC) provides, and they have stepped up to once again rally the community behind the Education Foundation’s Together We Grow community fundraiser. 

“One of the Chamber’s key initiatives is to invest in our future,” MACC Executive Director Shannan Reid said.  “Not just the next business to come along, but also as MISD prepares our young people to eventually return to Montgomery and build the community up for the next generation. The Montgomery Area Chamber is proud to support the MISD Education Foundation’s Together We Grow Community Fundraiser and encourages all Montgomery residents to join in this incredible event.”

The Montgomery ISD Education Foundation’s Together We Grow community fundraiser will be held on Saturday, April 24th from 7-11 p.m. This event is the remodeled version of their annual Gala, and will take place outdoors at the Old Community Center in Historic Montgomery. The Education Foundation board is putting great effort into making this event an inclusive and community-wide venture that will be a successful fundraiser for their scholarship and teacher grant programs.

You can purchase tickets to the Together we Grow Community Fundraiser here.

MISD Education Foundation to award “Hustle” grant for a campus project at Together We Grow community fundraiser

The Montgomery ISD Education Foundation is hosting its first community fundraiser, Together We Grow, on Saturday, April 24th from 7-11pm. This event is the remodeled version of their annual Gala, and will take place outdoors at the Old Community Center in Historic Montgomery. The Education Foundation board is putting great effort into making this event an inclusive and community-wide venture that will be a successful fundraiser for their scholarship and teacher grant programs.

At the event, the Foundation will be rewarding a $2,000 campus grant to one MISD Principal for their Campus Hustle Project! There will be hustle teams of parents from each campus working at the event, selling sponsorship tickets to those in attendance that want to support our cause. The campus with the most hustle will win! The good news is, the hustle STARTS NOW!  Below you will see videos of each campus principal explaining what they will do with the money if their campus wins, and the whole community is invited to join in the fun!

  1. Watch the videos below! You can also view them all here.
  2. Click on THIS LINK and purchase campus sponsorship tickets (at the very bottom) to help YOUR school win.  This is where the “hustle” happens! Make sure you put YOUR campus in the blank so they will get the credit for the purchase!
  3. While you’re on the link, go ahead and purchase tickets to attend this great night! It will be a great night of BBQ, live music AND MORE in the heart of our growing town!
  4. SHARE the link and SHARE the video supporting YOUR campus choice on all your social media platforms! Anyone can purchase tickets to support the hustle, and anyone can attend the event, so let’s help YOUR campus come out on top!
  5. LIKE and FOLLOW the MISD Education Foundation Page on Facebook HERE.  You can even tag them when you make your posts about the event!
Montgomery ES Campus Hustle Project
Madeley Ranch ES Campus Hustle Project
Keenan ES Campus Hustle Project
Lincoln ES Campus Hustle Project
Stewart Creek ES Campus Hustle Project
Lone Star ES Campus Hustle Project
Montgomery Junior High Campus Hustle Project
Oak Hills Junior High Campus Hustle Project
Montgomery HS Campus Hustle Project
Lake Creek HS Campus Hustle Project

A special message from Board President Matt Fuller

Dear Montgomery ISD Community,

I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you the direction Montgomery ISD is taking as it relates to Governor Abbott’s recent announcement regarding the required use of face masks or coverings. During our March Regular Board of Trustees meeting this evening, the board adopted a Resolution that maintains the district’s current health protocols through the end of this school year. The Resolution also authorizes the Superintendent to make masks optional beginning May 31, 2021, pending future state law or regulations allow for this to occur. While each of us on the board has our own strong opinions on this issue, I’m thankful that we addressed it respectfully. We all agree that providing our students with an excellent in-person educational experience by keeping schools open and limiting the number of required COVID-19 close contact quarantines must remain our top priority. 

It was just over a year ago when our district shut down, for what we thought would be a brief period. Instead, like so many districts across our state and nation, our students never returned to school after Spring Break in March 2020. Our board takes great pride in the fact that our district has been a leader in trying to balance various state regulations while attempting to return to a sense of normalcy for our students and families. We were among the first districts in the nation to return for in-person instruction in August 2020, and we have not required our pre-K through 3rd-grade students to wear masks, as many other districts have done. Additionally, we are all proud and appreciative that our number of students choosing in-person learning as their preferred method of instruction has grown to 94%. Across the state, the average number of students choosing in-person learning is still less than 60%. This is a testament to the resilience and grit of the Montgomery community, especially our teachers and campus staff who have tried their best to make 2020 and 2021 as normal as possible for our students. Our students have inspired me and others with their determination and kindness even though they have seen traditions upended and have dealt with tremendous amounts of stress and loss in some of the most formative years of their youth.

Continuing with our current health protocols, which follow the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) guidelines and requires all staff and students in grades 4 to 12 to wear masks or facial coverings was not an easy decision. It’s important to note that Governor Abbott’s recent executive order, which lifted the statewide mask mandate for Texas’s bars, restaurants, and businesses on March 10, delegated mask requirements for public school districts to be determined by TEA. Following the Governor’s order, TEA directed school districts to continue operating with existing mask requirements in place. However, TEA did allow local school districts to consider lifting the mask mandate through an official action of the board of trustees. The Governor and TEA called for school boards to consider the guidance of local health authorities in making this decision. The Montgomery County Health District voiced strong support for continuing with mask protocols for the remainder of this academic year. 

It’s also important to note that, while TEA did allow school boards to consider modifications to mask requirements, it did not make any changes to rules regarding close contact tracing and mandated quarantining when someone on a school campus tests positive for COVID-19. Today, when a student or faculty member tests positive, there are very few individuals having to be quarantined, as everyone in grades 4-12 is required to wear a mask. The rules established by TEA are clear – if all individuals are wearing a mask, close contact rules require only the person who tested positive to be quarantined. Since TEA made no adjustments to its close contact rules, if masks were to become optional, and the person testing positive for COVID-19 was not wearing a mask, all individuals who were within six feet for longer than 15 minutes would have to be quarantined. This is true even if every other individual was wearing a mask, as TEA indicates close contact rules can only be impacted by all parties wearing masks. It is also true that the CDC recently adjusted its close contact protocols to 3 feet of contact. As of yet, TEA has not adjusted its close contact protocols.

By allowing school districts to consider removing mask requirements with existing close contact tracing protocols in place, TEA’s guidance puts school districts in a no-win situation. Districts were never consulted in the implementation of the mask mandate. Asking districts to act now to remove a mandate they had no involvement in forming places local leaders in an unnecessarily contrived situation. Making masks optional without changing close contact rules would lead to a significant increase in the number of students and staff having to be quarantined and would negatively impact our ability to keep schools open and student activities thriving. This, along with guidance from the Montgomery County Health District, is why the overwhelming number of school districts in our region and state are continuing with their current mask-wearing protocols. 

District administration consulted with campus principals, PTO/PTA presidents and student leaders, and issued a staff survey regarding the continued wearing of masks in school and district facilities. The overall consensus across each of these groups was, while everyone looks forward to the day when masks will no longer be required, the district’s focus should remain on keeping schools open for in-person instruction and working to ensure extracurricular activities, sports, and graduation ceremonies can successfully occur through the remainder of this school year.

With this in mind, the board also took action on a resolution authorizing the Superintendent to seek responsible modifications from TEA regarding its close contact procedures. There is agreement among our board that if TEA were to make reasonable changes to close contact requirements regarding individuals within a defined radius wearing masks, we could consider a different approach to masks within our school district. Several board members and I have been in communication with local elected officials and are working with TEA and other agencies to advocate for these changes.

The board was also pleased to hear that the district administration was already developing plans to move further toward a sense of normalcy in our schools by opening up campuses to parents and volunteers and our mentor program. Our superintendent, Dr. Heath Morrison, has been working with principals, PTA/PTO presidents and student leaders to have open graduations and award ceremonies, proms, field days, athletic and extracurricular events, and the return of parents, volunteers and mentors in schools. These are encouraging and welcome next steps to returning to the normal activities we want back in our schools.

I know this decision to continue with current mask protocols until May 31 will disappoint many in our community. Please know that your school board members have spent the last few weeks hearing very passionate, compelling opinions on all aspects of this issue. My fellow board members and I truly value so many individuals sharing their voices. What ultimately drove our actions was the focus on keeping our schools, programs and activities open. We want our school district to be able to finish this school year with as many of the normal end-of-year activities as possible. We will continue to advocate that TEA make sensible modifications to its close contact rules so we are not faced with only being able to consider making masks optional by accepting nonsensical rules which will require significant increases of individuals having to be quarantined. 

Thank you for your understanding and support as we work diligently to finish this school year strong. Keeping schools open and ensuring high-quality in-person learning can occur has been and will remain our focus. Our community, our state and our nation have been through a lot lately. I ask that MISD staff, families and community members continue to support each other and work together as we emerge from the past year with faith, hope and anticipation for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Respectfully,

Matt Fuller

President

MISD Board of Trustees

The MISD Minute: Friday, March 12, 2021

A Year of Resilience

It’s hard to believe that one year ago this week, our school district was forced to halt in-person instruction due to the spread of COVID-19 in our community. When I think back to one year ago, I recall the fear of the unknown and the impact the pandemic would soon have in school communities across the nation. I remember how difficult and painful it was for educators and students to miss nearly a full semester of in-person instruction. And mostly, I think about activities like graduation, prom, athletics and extracurricular activities that had to be canceled and the thousands of students who never had an opportunity to create a lifetime of memories. These were extraordinarily challenging times.

Fast-forward to today. There’s no doubting that things look a little different. Social distancing, hand sanitizer and masks are now a part of our daily routines – the new (temporary) reality. Yet, because of these adjustments and other health and safety protocols in place, we have been able to offer in-person learning and resume extracurricular activities this year with some normalcy. In fact, Montgomery ISD was one of the first school districts in Texas to re-open for in-person instruction. This community should take great pride in the resilience of Montgomery ISD students and staff.

As we head out for a much-needed Spring Break, lets take a moment to recognize how far we have come from one year ago today. From not knowing when we would be able to return to our campuses, classrooms, and sports fields – to where we stand now – with nearly 95% of students engaged with in-person learning, extra-curricular activities in full swing, and our sports teams on the field.

Nothing about this year has been easy. The challenges we have confronted during this school year have taken a toll on everyone – from a global pandemic, hurricanes and brownouts to a once in a generation winter storm in south Texas. I’m thankful that our community has continually put children first as we have navigated the challenges presented during this unprecedented school year. Let’s celebrate our resilience, take a week to rest, and finish this school year strong.

Below you will find a few important district updates. Thank you for taking the time to read this week’s MISD Minute to stay informed on important issues happening in the district.

Please enjoy a safe Spring Break. We’ll see you on March 22!

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrrison

Superintendent

Montgomery ISD

COVID-19 Vaccine Opportunity on Monday, March 22 at the District ESC

On Monday, March 22, all MISD employees will have the opportunity to receive the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the MISD Education Support Center. All school district employees are now eligible for the vaccine.  

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment, please complete the questions in this link (also below – employee name, date of birth and employee ISD email address). The list will be submitted to the Montgomery County Health District (MCHD) and you will then receive an email to register for your appointment (check your spam folder if you do not get an email).  An appointment is required to receive the vaccine on March 22. Appointment times will be between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=aNXioP38pUiOvteAor6fEImi0qrU-SFPuy0t6YL1d71UNTlRN1k2SktSN09YVlg5NDNKTkVCOU5KSC4u

Please choose a time slot that is during your scheduled conference period, if possible.  If your conference time is in the morning, your campus administration will work with you so that you have the ability to leave campus for your scheduled appointment time.  Please communicate this need so they can make arrangements. 

MISD staff should complete this form by midnight on March 16th. Please park in the back parking lot and enter the doors for the Board Room area.

To view the prescreening checklist for the Moderna vaccine, click this link:  https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/downloads/pre-vaccination-screening-form.pdf

As soon as the 2nd dose of Moderna is available, MCHD will send out an email with registration options.  We plan to work with MCHD to open the MISD ESC as a vaccination site for the second dose, as well. 

This opportunity is being provided as a courtesy to our employees – the vaccine is not mandatory.

Budget Road Show

This week, we completed three stops of our “Budget Road Show”, meeting with ESC staff and the faculties at Stewart Creek ES and Lone Star ES. Financial transparency and providing meaningful salary increases to district employees are our top priorities as we build a district budget for the 2021-22 school year. We’re also committed to developing a district compensation plan to present to the Board of Trustees for approval in April. With a district compensation plan, employees will have a much better understanding of their salaries going into the next school year. It has been exciting to share some of our initial budget development work and proposals for salary improvements with staff across the district. I have enjoyed answering your questions and taking input and feedback.

I look forward to continuing these discussions when we return from Spring Break.

Staff Survey Results – Mask Requirements

This week, we surveyed all staff to gather input on the district’s existing mask requirement. Thank you to all of you who took the time to respond and provide us with your feedback. Your input is important to us as we make important health and safety-related decisions at the district level.

You can see the results of the staff survey here.

Superintendent Shout-Out – Montgomery JH One Act Play

Congratulations to MJH Theater teacher Tammy Lumpkin and the Montgomery Junior High UIL One Act Play students, who were named district champions this week!

We are so proud of your hard work and dedication this year.

Way to go, Bears!

The MISD Minute: Friday, March 5, 2021

An update regarding the Governor’s Executive Order

I wanted to provide you with an update on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order No. GA-34, which rescinds the statewide mandate regarding the required use of face masks or facial coverings. The Executive Order takes effect on Wednesday, March 10.

On Wednesday, March 3rd the Texas Education Agency issued further clarification regarding the Governor’s Executive Order. TEA clarified that the use of a mask or facial covering is still required when inside a school building, school facility, and facility used for school activities. TEA also stated that a local school board may modify or eliminate any existing district mask-related requirements by taking a formal action.

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees will have this issue as an agenda item when it meets for its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 23. Until then, Montgomery ISD will continue to follow its existing health and safety protocols requiring face masks or facial coverings on all district campuses and facilities. 

It’s important to note that the TEA guidance did not change – or address – how removing a mask requirement would impact required close contact tracing, social distancing and CDC-required quarantining. This presents challenges in scenarios where campus administrators need to determine close contacts to an individual who tests positive for COVID-19.

For example, under the current close contact and quarantine requirements, in a scenario where an individual wearing a mask or face covering tests positive for COVID-19, only those individuals not wearing masks or face coverings determined to be in close contact with the positive person would be required to quarantine. Conversely, in a scenario where an individual not wearing a mask or face covering tests positive for COVID-19, all individuals – whether they were wearing masks or facial coverings or not – determined to be in close contact with the positive person would be required to quarantine. This scenario has the potential to result in large numbers of required quarantines impacting classrooms, sports programs and even an entire campus. We are currently seeking to gain further clarification from the TEA on quarantine requirements for districts considering removing mask-wearing requirements.

We understand that our community feels very passionately about all sides of this issue. Please know that as a district, our top priorities are the health of our students and staff and ensuring that in-person learning can continue without closing schools or quarantining a large number of students, sports programs or entire classrooms. 

I want to thank our staff, students, and parents for their flexibility and understanding throughout this challenging school year. I am proud of not only how we successfully reopened schools for in-person instruction in August, but also of how we have ensured that our campuses have been able to stay open without any major disruptions due to the spread of the virus. While the state is averaging approximately 56% of students engaged with in-person instruction, MISD has over 94% of our students choosing in-person learning as their preferred method of instruction. We are proud of our students, staff and community.

Again, thank you for your patience as we continue to confront unprecedented challenges.

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Superintendent

Montgomery ISD

School District Personnel Now Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine

I am very thankful that our educators, campus staff and other district personnel are now on the COVID-19 vaccine priority list.

We are working diligently to ensure that any employee who wants to receive a vaccine will have access to one. On Monday, March 22 there will be an opportunity for employees who would like the vaccine to receive the here at the MISD ESC. Please know that we will work with your campus principal or supervisor to ensure your duties are covered during the time you need to travel to the MISD ESC to receive the vaccine. More information will be shared in the coming days.

Once again, I want to reiterate that the vaccine is optional. While we are working to provide vaccines as a courtesy to our staff, receiving one will never be a requirement for employment in our district.

Second MISD Strategic Plan Town Hall

Thank you to all who participated in our second Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting at Lake Creek High School on Thursday, March 4.

During this Town Hall meeting, strategic plan task force leaders shared results of each SWOT analysis performed in the first Town Hall meeting in January at Montgomery High School. It was important that each task force do a “deep dive” on perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relating to each of the five Board goals before starting to develop district initiatives and strategies aimed at targeted and measurable improvements in various areas.

Town Hall attendees also had the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions to discuss possible district initiatives and strategies addressing the district’s five goals: academic achievement, school safety, district finance and operations, human resources, and communications and customer service. I am both excited and thankful for the level of community support and participation in this process. Our five task force committees have grown in number of participants considerably since we first started this work back in December. It has been a true privilege for me to see first-hand the authentic work happening with the ultimate goal of evolving our great school district into the “premier” school district.

We will hold one final Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting in April before finalizing a draft plan to present to the MISD Board of Trustees.

Communication Council Conversation on Budget and Pay Raises

This week I met with our elementary and secondary communications councils to provide them with an overview of the district’s budgeting process for the 2021-22 school year and share with them what is being discussed as it relates to improvements to employee compensation. I also shared with them that it’s our intention to take a district compensation plan to the Board of Trustees for approval in April, meaning that you will have a clear understanding of your salary before signing a contract for the next school year.

As I stated to them during our discussion, we are committed to complete transparency as we develop budget options that provide our employees with well deserved pay raises. Over the next several weeks, I will be meeting with all staff from each campus to discuss our budget plans and answer any questions you may have about this process.

I look forward to engaging in these important discussions with you.

Superintendent Shout-Out – The MISD Fishing Team

I want to give a shout-out to Coach Mark Hooker and the MISD Fishing Team!

Coach Hooker and his anglers know what it takes to build a successful team. Over the past several years, The MISD Fishing Team has achieved historic success, winning several conference titles over nearly 50 competing districts, cementing Montgomery ISD as THE top program in the State!

Check out this awesome feature on these talented students and watch the video below to hear what “victory” means to them!

MISD Education Foundation “Together We Grow” Fundraiser

On Saturday, April 24, the Montgomery ISD Education Foundation is host its first “Together We Grow” community fundraiser on April 24 in downtown Montgomery from 7-11 pm. This is going to be a casual, adult night out with live music featuring the band Rapture, and a BBQ dinner catered by our locally owned Jr’s. Please mark your calendars and make plans to attend!

The goal of the MISD Education Foundation is to support each of our 10 campuses through scholarships, grants, special projects and other financial matters, and this event is a great way to be a part of all that we are doing for MISD schools!

You can purchase tickets for the event here.

A Conversation with Dr. Meeker – Part III

Please take some time to watch my latest conversation with Montgomery Jr. High School’s Dr. Meeker!

In this edition, we discuss the Governor’s new Executive Order, our recent inclement weather closure days, the MISD Strategic Planning and 2021-22 budget development processes, our work to improve employee compensation across the district and the upcoming MISD Board of Trustee elections!

MISD Education Foundation to host “Together We Grow” Fundraiser on Saturday, April 24

The Montgomery ISD Education Foundation is hosting the “Together We Grow” community fundraiser on Saturday, April 24th from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. in historic downtown Montgomery.

The Together We Grow community fundraiser will be a casual, adult night out with live music featuring the band Rapture, and a BBQ dinner catered by locally owned Jr’s. We hope that all MISD parents, staff and community members will mark their calendars and make plans to attend!

You can purchase tickets for the event here.

The Foundation will be holding a friendly campus competition at the event to award an MISD Principal a $2,000 grant for their campus! You can help your campus win by sharing the ticket link and encouraging people to buy sponsorship tickets for your campus. We will give more information about what each Principal will do with the money if they win, so keep an eye out on social media for those special announcements. 

The goal of the MISD Education Foundation is to support each of our ten campuses through scholarships, grants, special projects and other financial matters, and this event is a great way to be a part of all that the Education Foundation does for students and schools in Montgomery ISD!

Second MISD Strategic Plan Town Hall to be held at Lake Creek HS on March 4

On Thursday, March 4, Montgomery ISD will host a second Strategic Plan Town Hall meeting from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Lake Creek High School.

Montgomery ISD is developing a district strategic plan with input from parents, staff, students, and stakeholders. The strategic plan is being developed based on the district goals adopted by the Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees, which focus on excellence in academic achievement (Goal 1), school safety (Goal 2), district finance and operations (Goal 3), human resources and staffing (Goal 4), and communications and customer service (Goal 5).

The Montgomery ISD strategic plan will consist of a set of measurable data targets, or “key performance indicators”, that will guide the district over the next several years and provide the opportunity to measure success in the areas addressed by the Board’s adopted goals. The strategic plan will also outline district initiatives and strategies that are intended to drive success toward meeting and exceeding data targets in the “key performance indicators”.

All parents, staff, students and community members who would like to provide their input and offer ideas on any of the topics addressed by the board goals are encouraged to attend.

If you have ideas and input for the district on academic achievement, school safety, finance and operations, human resources, and communications and customer service, we want to hear from you!

During the Town Hall Meeting, there will be five “breakout sessions” – each focusing on one of the five Board goals.

A remote participation option on Zoom will be provided for each breakout session, which will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. Zoom participation details are below:

Goal 1 Academics

Join Goal 1 Breakout Session
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/75439084852?pwd=STFiQVRLM3FZL2JVZ0U2Yyt0dVViZz09

Meeting ID: 754 3908 4852

Passcode: MISD

Goal 2 School Safety

Join Goal 2 Breakout Session
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/72467540633?pwd=bzlOSWtGT3dYb25TbFYyRzd2MStoUT09

Meeting ID: 724 6754 0633
Passcode: MISD

Goal 3: Finance and Operations

Join Goal 3 Breakout Session

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88239048280?pwd=djQ5M3hndkZZQ09xL0pPVG8wVzVLUT09

Meeting ID: 882 3904 8280

Passcode: MISD

Goal 4: Human Capital

Join Goal 4 Breakout Session
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86748774186?pwd=WDc4REdKV0JuYlNoeGN5SWFmZTV2UT09 
Meeting ID: 867 4877 4186 
Passcode: MISD 

Goal 5: Communications and Customer Service

Join Goal 5 Breakout Session
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/3597505733?pwd=L0hHU09IZWFFTmd0V2V6amI0QnJnZz09 

Meeting ID: 359 750 5733
Passcode: Task5  

Thank you for your continued support and participation in the district strategic planning process.

Parking information at Lake Creek is below: