Montgomery ISD board adopts lower district property tax rate

Trustees also approve firm for professional architectural services, paving way for possible bond election in May 2022

The Montgomery ISD Board of trustees held a regularly scheduled meeting tonight and unanimously adopted a lower district tax rate.

There are two rates that make up a total tax rate for the district, Maintenance and Operation (M&O) and Interest and Sinking (I&S). The M&O tax rate provides funds for general maintenance and operations, like employee salaries and instructional costs. The I&S tax rate provides funds for payments on the debt that finances the district’s facilities.

The new Montgomery tax rates for the 2021-22 fiscal year are $0.8857 (M&O) and $0.3743 (I&S) for a total of $1.26 per $100 property valuation. The previous 2020-21 tax rate before tonight’s decrease was $0.9423 (M&O) and $0.3375 (I&S) for a total of $1.2798. In 2019-20, the district’s total tax rate was $1.3075 and in 2018-2019, the district’s total tax rate was $1.37 per $100 valuation. Over three years, the district’s tax rate has decreased 11 cents per $100 valuation.

It is important to note that taxpayers may still see an overall increase in their property tax bills due to increased property values, which are set each year by the Montgomery County Appraisal District.

“I’m very pleased that we decreased our district tax rate tonight,” Board Vice-President Gary Hammons said. “Providing students with an excellent education while exercising fiscal responsibility should always be our goal.”

Montgomery ISD trustees also approved the district administration’s recommendation to partner with the Texas-based firm Huckabee for professional architectural services. This action is the first of a number of steps toward the district planning for a potential bond election in May 2022.

Last year, Montgomery ISD contracted with a third party to conduct a demographic study of the district. The study projects a significant growth in the number of families moving into the district in the next 10 years.

“Growth isn’t just coming to Montgomery… it’s already here,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “Since the demographic study was completed this summer, our district has already enrolled more students than were projected to enroll in the next two academic years.  We have an obligation to our community to ensure we equip our staff and facilities with the tools and capacity needed to effectively educate students and serve families.”

Over the next several weeks, the district will form a citizens’ bond advisory committee and hold a number of planning meetings in anticipation of a bond election in May 2022. The committee will consist of MISD parents, staff, and business and community members.

If the district decides to pursue a bond, trustees will need to take official action no later than February 18, 2022. The citizens’ bond advisory committee would present recommendations to the Board in January 2022 regarding capital and infrastructure items to include in a bond election.

“Over the last several months, we have taken necessary steps to plan for the future of Montgomery ISD by listening, learning, asking questions and gathering important data needs,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “Before moving forward with any bond, we will continue to gather all of the necessary information for our voters to make an informed decision, and we will listen to all voices in our community to develop a plan that invests in the future of our growing district.”

The MISD Minute- Friday, August 13, 2021

Welcome back MISD students

What a privilege it was to welcome over 9,000 students back to our 10 campuses across Montgomery ISD yesterday! The start of a new school year is always a beautiful opportunity to be reminded of why each of us chose this profession and the difference we can make in each of our student’s lives.

When I think back to starting the role of superintendent last year, I’m so proud of the work we have achieved. As a school district community, we have worked together to develop our Pathway to Premier Strategic Plan and our board of trustees approved raises for each of you after an immense amount of effort to balance the budget. I’m excited to continue the work necessary to make Montgomery ISD the Premier School District in the state of Texas on our journey from “Good” to “Great”.

-Dr. Morrison

Insights from professional development leading up to student return

District staff spent Tuesday, August 10th in professional development to prepare for the start of the school year.  Montgomery ISD administrators held trainings for teachers and staff that were divided by department, grade level and content areas.  The morning was spent doing a variety of activities including planning, reviewing content, and developing lessons. Collaboration across the district with professional development is one way we can focus on our mission of #OnePathTogether and striving to offer all students in Montgomery ISD the best education and preparation for the future!

Montgomery ISD continues to grow at a rapid pace

MISD finished the 2020-2021 school year with 9,031 students and as of today we have over 9,400 enrolled students. This growth rate is already exceeding the predictions made just a few months ago when Montgomery ISD received their demographic study and growth prediction from Population and Survey Analysts. This type of rapid growth brings both excitement and a few challenges, especially with so many students enrolling in the weeks leading up to school starting. With this unexpected increase in enrollment, you will of course see a few classrooms that have reached their capacity. It should come at no surprise that we have job postings for positions at many of our district campuses and are seeking to fill those positions quickly.

The exciting news is that people want to come to Montgomery ISD. It is clear that they want their students to be on our campuses and they believe that we have the best to offer their children. Rapid growth always comes with growing pains, and while we should accept those with grace and patience, we should also celebrate that the Pathway to Premier is going to be full of such amazing opportunity and everyone wants to be a part of it. If you’re new to the district, we welcome you, and we hope you will do your part to make this year a successful one!

Rapid testing, vaccine opportunity and the district’s COVID-19 tracker

Montgomery ISD has resumed free COVID-19 rapid testing at the Education Support Center for students or staff members wishing to be tested. To receive a test, appointments must be made online. You can schedule an appointment by clicking here.

Rapid testing is not required, but is a courtesy service being offered to our students and staff.

On Thursday, Aug. 19 and Friday, Aug. 20, Montgomery ISD will serve as a vaccination site for any eligible individual who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine being administered will be Pfizer and they will be administered at the District Education Support Center, located at 20774 Eva St., Montgomery, TX 77356.

Links to sign up for the vaccine are below.

August 19: https://getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov/txces/s/txsignup?language=en_US&eventId=a1L8y0000005L9pEAE

August 20: https://getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov/txces/s/txsignup?language=en_US&eventId=a1L8y0000005LAEEA2

Receiving the vaccine is not required. This service is being provided as a courtesy to students, staff and members of the community.

As of yesterday, the district’s re-designed COVID tracker became available on our website at www.misd.org. The tracker will be updated daily and now includes the number of positive cases by day, campus and grade level.

You can review all of the district’s health protocols and see a list of frequently asked questions by clicking here.

MISD and Montgomery Area Chamber partnered for back to school prep

Please watch this video highlighting our back to school partnership with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. We continue to be thankful for their efforts in helping us prepare for a successful 2021-2022 school year.

Dr. Morrison’s Interview on FOX 26

In case you missed it, Dr. Morrison was interviewed live on FOX 26 during the first day of school!

You can see the full interview here!

Montgomery ES receives iPad donation from Suddenlink

Montgomery Elementary Principal Bobby Ingalls, Library Media Specialist Kelli Kojis, MISD Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Carrie Fitzpatrick, Montgomery Mayor Sara Countryman, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shannan Reid are joined by Suddenlink representatives

Montgomery Elementary School is starting the 2021-22 school year with new iPads thanks to the generosity of Suddenlink Communications. The internet and media provider delivered 15 iPads and 600 composition notebooks to the campus on the first day of classes.

“Our company is committed to supporting education across the country,” Suddenlink Marketing Engagement Manager Curt Allison said. “The Montgomery area is very important to us as a company. We’re always looking for opportunities to support the incredible students of Montgomery ISD.”

Montgomery ES Principal Bobby Ingalls said donations like this from business partners have a significant impact on their campus in many ways.  

“This generous donation is invaluable to our campus,” Ingalls said. “Support from community partners empowers us to use our campus budget in other ways that enhance student learning environments.”

The campus already has plans in place for the new devices, which will benefit all grade levels in a variety of subject areas.

“Students across all grade levels will be able to use these devices in several subject areas,” Montgomery ES Library Media Specialist Kelli Kojis said. “The possibilities are truly endless.”

MISD and Montgomery Area Chamber partner to get schools ready for the 2021-2022 school year

Montgomery ISD welcomed back the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Get Back to Work” day on Friday, August 6th with volunteers from local businesses and community leaders working together to complete projects and task lists at all 10 MISD campuses. The day began with a breakfast and rally at the MISD Education Support Center before teams of volunteers were spread out around the district to deliver hospitality buckets and complete each campus’ needs list.

Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shannan Reid spent the summer coordinating local business owners and community members to create work teams for each campus. All 10 teams had a business sponsor, a hospitality coordinator and a team captain to make the work at each campus both efficient and beneficial. Each campus principal in MISD turned in a list of projects that needed to be completed.

“The community members and business owners in the Montgomery area are critical partners to everything we accomplish in Montgomery ISD,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “Whether they supported this effort financially, or showed up in person and worked through the heat with physical labor, our campuses are all ready to operate now thanks to their support.”

Campus projects included updating name plates for classrooms, assembling new furniture, textbook organization and delivery, as well as outdoor needs of spreading mulch, weeding gardens, and the painting of parking lots. On many campuses, individual teachers and program directors were given volunteers to get their classroom, theater or curriculum organized and ready for a successful 2021-2022 school year.

“The work completed on our campus today was so very important to every staff member and student that’s going to be on our campus this year,” Stewart Creek Elementary School Principal Michele Salter said. “As our administration’s to-do list grew through the summer months and we began counting down to the start of instruction, knowing that this project list could get completed by volunteers allowed our staff to focus on the most time sensitive work and trust our amazing community to come through for us.”

After completing their projects, all volunteers were welcomed back to the district office for a catered lunch and a thank you from Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations, Kris Lynn.

Montgomery ISD has partnered with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce for “Get Back to Work Day” since 2017.

“The Get Back to Work Day is one of my most favorite annual contributions to the start of a Montgomery ISD school year,” Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shannan Reid said. “Watching the members of our chamber show up in such a necessary way, willing to do whatever is asked of them to help our district’s teachers get ready for the year, brings me so much joy!” All Montgomery ISD students return to school on Thursday, August 12.

The MISD Minute – Sunday, August 8, 2021

Welcome Back, Team Montgomery ISD!

I am very excited to have our staff back on campuses, preparing to welcome students on Thursday. It’s been evident through our new teacher orientation on Tuesday and our Convocation on Thursday that all campuses and departments are ready to travel the #PathwayToPremier. We hope you enjoyed your summer and gathered the rest and motivation needed to bring your best to the 2021-2022 school year.

Last year was quite the challenge for educators and students all across our district and we are hopeful that this year will allow for more normal instruction and campus culture. You will be seeing a lot of new faces throughout our district this year and the administration team at the Education Support Center has worked hard this summer to make sure that leaders are in place to help you more than ever before.

Let’s have an amazing year!

-Dr. Morrison

#OnePathTogether Convocation

Thursday’s pep rally style convocation was a fabulous way to kick off this 2021-2022 school year with excitement. We hope that our staff and specials guests enjoyed the food truck lunch options and took the time to soak up the support that our community brings for our educators. This event would not have been possible without the help of our sponsors and donors.

“Get Back to Work” Day with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce

We want to extend a huge thank you to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and Shannan Reid for organizing and executing such a fabulous Get Back to Work Day for Montgomery ISD. The Chamber gathered over 100 volunteers from the area and brought teams of helpers to each of our 10 campuses to help get our facilities ready for the 2021-2022 school year. Our partnership with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce has been an ongoing gift to our district and we are thankful for this annual event that has been helping our campuses since 2017.

Campus projects included updating name plates for classrooms, assembling new furniture, textbook organization and delivery, as well as outdoor needs of spreading mulch, weeding gardens, and the painting of parking lots. On many campuses, individual teachers and program directors were given volunteers to get their classroom, theater or curriculum organized and ready for a successful 2021-2022 school year. Thanks to the donations of Montgomery area business owners and the time given by each volunteer, our campuses are ready to operate and welcome students on Thursday, August 12th

District Health Protocols

Montgomery ISD announced their health protocols for the 2021-22 school year. Click here for more information.

A Conversation with Dr. Heath Morrison- Season 2, Part I

Montgomery Jr. High teacher Dr. Meeker is back this year for Season two of Conversations with Dr. Heath Morrison. In this first episode of season two, Dr. Meeker and Dr. Morrison discussed all things relating to the 2021-22 school year!

Kerri Gilchriest named Region 6 Counselor of the Year

Montgomery ISD administration is very excited to announce that our very own Kerri Gilchriest has been named the Region 6 Counselor of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year. Mrs. Gilchriest is one of our district’s special education counselors and services children of all ages, on many campuses in our district. Kerri Gilchriest is known for going above and beyond to ensure all of the students she supports have access to the services they each individually need and is always making an effort to offer new opportunities.  She has introduced innovative ideas such as equine therapy for some of our students, who have since thrived and may not have had that chance otherwise. The love and care she has for each of her students is evident through her work each and every day and we are very proud to have her working with the students in Montgomery ISD.

Montgomery ISD to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost for all students during 2021-2022 school year

Montgomery ISD announced today that for the 2021-2022 school year, healthy meals will be offered every school day, to every student, at no cost.

In a typical year, a student’s household must meet income eligibility requirements to qualify for free or reduced-priced meals. Due to the recently issued guidance by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Montgomery ISD can now offer meals to all students at no cost for the entirety of this school year.

 “This is a fabulous opportunity for all MISD families, and we are thrilled that all children can receive healthy meals, at no charge, every day,” Montgomery ISD Child Nutrition Director Lena Neugebauer said. “We encourage our families to take advantage of this opportunity to ensure children are provided meals that empower them to flourish in the classroom.”

The traditional Free or Reduced-price Meal Application will not be required to receive breakfast and lunch at no cost. The district will still offer a la carte items and snacks available for purchase.

Montgomery Junior High Welcomes Lesa Dunbar

Ms. Dunbar joins Barbara Gagliano and Tressie Stewart on the MJH Counseling Team. The team will be providing counseling services by grade level this year; Mrs. Gagliano will have 6th grade, Ms. Dunbar 7th, and Mrs. Stewart 8th.

Ms. Dunbar is beginning her 21st year in education, with the past four as a professional school counselor.  She has a Bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and a Master of Education in School Counseling from Sam Houston State University.

She had this to say of her new opportunity, “I am so excited and honored to join the MJH TEAM!  I look forward to bringing my experience and training to support our students, staff, and community.”

Please help us give Ms. Dunbar a warm BEAR WELCOME!

Kerri Ashlock named Principal of Lincoln ES

MISD Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison has selected Ms. Kerri Ashlock as the next principal of Lincoln Elementary School.

Ashlock holds eight years of experience as an elementary school assistant principal, most recently in the Katy Independent School District.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve the students and staff of Lincoln ES,” Ashlock said. “I look forward to joining the LES Bear family and working alongside our teachers and staff to ensure that every child who enters our school is thriving academically and socially.”

Ashlock succeeds Mrs. Courtney Dyer as principal of Lincoln Elementary School. Dyer recently accepted the role of Director of Community Services within Montgomery ISD.

Following Dyer’s appointment as Director of Community Services, a team consisting of district leadership, teachers and parents began the search for the principal of Lincoln Elementary school. This process included meetings with Lincoln Elementary School staff and parents to discuss the experience, qualities and characteristics desired in their next leader. 

During the interview process, Ashlock described herself as relationship-driven and systems based.  She incorporates a leadership style based on a coaching approach that focuses on data driven decision-making and instructional best practice and prides herself in assuring decisions are made in the best interest of students.  Ashlock has extensive training in Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports and the Professional Learning Community process and is eager to share this knowledge with others.

Ashlock begins her new role as principal of Lincoln ES on Wednesday, July 14. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas A&M Commerce and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Sam Houston State University.

“We’re excited about the experience, vision and leadership Kerri will bring to Lincoln Elementary School,” Morrison said. “I am extremely confident that under her leadership, Lincoln families will continue to be served with excellence and academic outcomes will be raised to even greater heights.”

Montgomery ISD trustees adopt balanced budget for fiscal year 2021-22

Board also approves Superintendent’s appointment of district’s next Executive Director of Specialized Learning

Montgomery ISD trustees adopted the district’s 2021-22 Fiscal Year budget during a special board meeting on Tuesday, June 29.

The balanced budget includes $79.5 M in district general fund revenues and $79.3 M in spending for the district’s upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2021. Throughout the 2020-21 school year, Superintendent Heath Morrison and Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Kris Lynn held a series of town hall meetings and discussions with district staff and stakeholders to solicit feedback from the public and provide updates during the development of the budget.

“The process for developing this budget began as soon as I joined Montgomery ISD as superintendent last summer,” Morrison said. “The board and community made a clear charge to balance the district’s spending and identify the funds necessary to improve employee salaries. This budget accomplishes both.”

Trustees also approved $4.6 M in student nutrition fund spending ($4.7 M in revenues) and $23.6 M in debt service fund spending ($24.1 M in revenues) for FY 2021-22. A school district’s debt service fund pays principal and interest for district debt used for new facilities and facility upgrades.

“This budget reflects the priorities of our community,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “Additionally, the budget was developed throughout the past year in an open process with widespread stakeholder input. The work to balance our district budget has been a group effort that was successful thanks to the many people in our district committed to operating in a more efficient manner.”

The adoption of the FY 2021-22 budget finalizes the raises approved by trustees in a new district compensation plan, which featured $3.8 M in salary and stipend increases across all employee groups. In April, trustees approved an additional 5% raise for teachers and 3% raise for all other employees. This raise was on top an across-the-board 2% raise authorized by the board in October 2020. From the 2020-21 school year to the start of the 2021-22 school year, current Montgomery ISD teachers will have received an approximate 7% total pay increase, or a total of $4,055, with all other employee groups receiving a 5% total raise. A first-year teacher entering Montgomery ISD will now have a starting salary of $54,450. The previous salary for a first-year teacher in Montgomery ISD was $51,000. 

“Developing a school district budget should be a transparent and collaborative process, not one single event,” Board Vice-President Gary Hammons said. “I’m very pleased that we have adopted a balanced budget for the next fiscal year that prioritizes teacher salaries.”

During the meeting, trustees also approved Morrison’s selection of Ms. Cortney Clover as the district’s next Executive Director of Specialized Learning. Clover holds 23 years of experience in public education, with 10 in special education leadership. Before joining Montgomery ISD, Clover served in Little Elm ISD and Brazosport ISD. Clover has extensive knowledge and experience in special education and specialized instruction, having taught in specialized behavior programs, life skills classrooms, reading language arts inclusion, co-teach, & resource.

“Ensuring the educational needs of all students are met should always be a top priority for us as a district,” Trustee Linda Porten said. “I’m excited about the experience, vision and leadership Ms. Clover will bring to our district’s special education programs to ensure all of our learners in Montgomery ISD are thriving.”

Trustees also approved the district’s recommendation to partner with K-12 Insight to conduct stakeholder engagement and satisfaction surveying for key performance indicator monitoring as part of the district’s “Pathway to Premier” strategic plan. K-12 Insight is a comprehensive research-based consulting company with more than 15 years of experience working with school district administrators across the nation. The national K-12 education partner specializes in collaborating with school districts to strengthen relationships with internal and external stakeholders.