Montgomery ISD Board Adopts 2022-23 Tax Rate

Trustees also receive update on 2022 bond program

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees held a regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Tuesday, August 16 and adopted a lower district tax rate. 

The total tax rate for the school district is made up of two components: Maintenance & Operation (M&O), and Interest and Sinking (I&S).  The M&O rate provides for general maintenance and operations of the district, including employee salaries and instructional costs.  The I&S rate is used to pay down debt that finances the district’s facilities.

The new Montgomery tax rates for the 2022-23 fiscal year are $0.8546 (M&O) and $0.3743 (I&S) for a total of $1.2289 per $100 property valuation. The 2021-22 Montgomery tax rates, before tonight’s decrease, were $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 was $0.9423 (M&O) and $0.3375 (I&S) for a total of $1.2798. Over the past three years, the district’s tax rate has decreased 5 cents per $100 valuation.

“It is worth noting that our I&S tax rate did not change,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “During the bond campaign, it was shared publicly that a $.07 cent tax increase may be necessary. The district sold $100 million in bonds over the summer without the need to increase our I&S rate in this budget cycle. The speaks to our district’s commitment to excellent fiscal management.”

Under state law, school districts are required to decrease their M&O tax rates when the assessed property values within the district increase.

“We are pleased to adopt a lower property tax rate for the district and provide our taxpayers with needed relief. However, we are concerned about the level of funding our district receives per student as compared to the rest of the state,“ Montgomery ISD Board President Matt Fuller said.  “We continue to engage our legislators in conversations about potential funding solutions that will allow the district to maintain a balanced budget while providing our teachers and staff members with competitive compensation packages.”

Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Kris Lynn gave a status report on projects funded by the district’s 2022 bond initiative and highlighted the timeline for naming the district’s Elementary School #7, slated to open in 2024. This fall, the community will have an opportunity to submit suggestions for the school name, mascot and colors. A voting survey with top suggestions will be shared with the public and top choices submitted for board approval by the end of the 2022-23 school year.

“During the bond campaign, we committed to transparency and collaboration with the community – not just during the campaign, but moving forward as projects begin,” Trustee Shawn Denison said. “Tonight’s board meeting and update reflect the sincerity of that commitment.”

There were also several special recognitions during the meeting.  The board recognized the 2022 State Champion Softball Team, the Lake Creek High School Lions, and the Region 6 Paraprofessional of the Year, Lily Salas Nino from Montgomery Elementary School. Dr. Catherine Bartlett, who retired as Lone Star Elementary Principal at the end of the 2021-22 school year, was also recognized for her leadership and contributions to the campus and Montgomery ISD.

2022 State Champion Lake Creek High School Softball Team
Region 6 Paraprofessional of the Year, Montgomery Elementary School’s Lily Salas Nino
Former Lone Star ES Principal Dr. Catherine Bartlett

Premier Praise for MISD Employees in May 2022

Each month during the school year, Montgomery ISD celebrates faculty and staff for their extraordinary contributions while serving MISD students. The employees listed on the praise pages below are MISD employees that were recognized by their peers in May. Congratulations and thank you to these individuals for the service they provided as we completed last school year.

Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees authorizes district to explore site for new elementary school

Elementary School #7 will address needs that come from significant growth in student enrollment

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees held a special meeting on Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

During the meeting, trustees authorized district administration to move forward with the due diligence phase and study of a potential site for Elementary School #7, which was approved by voters as part of the district’s May 2022 bond referendum. The site identified as the potential location for the new school is located on FM 2854 behind Lake Creek High School (see photo). As part of the due diligence phase, the district will now conduct a series of studies to determine if the location is a viable option for the new school.

“We’re grateful that voters in Montgomery ISD recognized the need for this new elementary school, responding to the rapidly increasing number of students entering our community and school district,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “This is a suitable and attractive site for the new school that accommodates growth in this southern portion of our district and alleviates the growing enrollment at Keenan and Stewart Creek elementary schools.”

Also, during the meeting, trustees approved the recommendation to hire Pogue Construction as the Construction Manager at Risk for the construction of Elementary School #7 and phase two of Lake Creek High School, which was also approved as part of the district’s May 2022 bond referendum. 

“We’re excited to welcome Pogue Construction as a new partner in Montgomery ISD,” Trustee Mike Hopkins said. “Pogue is a well-respected and highly reputable firm in the K-12 education space, and I am very confident that they will serve as a key partner in delivering the excellent quality and value that taxpayers expected when authorizing these two critical growth projects in our district.”

On May 7, 2022, voters approved three ballot propositions as part of the district’s bond referendum. Proposition A addressed enrollment growth and included Elementary School #7 and Phase 2 of Lake Creek High School, which will be an expansion of the building to accommodate an additional 900 students, bringing the school’s maximum capacity to 2,500 students and making the campus comparable to Montgomery High School. With approximately 1,600 students enrolled, Lake Creek High School has reached maximum capacity, which was not originally projected to occur until 2025.

The district anticipates that Elementary School #7 and Phase 2 of Lake Creek High School will be completed in time for the 2024-25 school year. 

“We are committed to providing every student in Montgomery ISD with an excellent academic program in the highest quality school facilities,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “I am grateful for the community’s support of the 2022 bond. Authorizing us to move forward with the due diligence stage of this site is an important step toward the construction of this new campus that will positively impact student outcomes and allow our teachers and staff to consistently deliver on the educational expectations of this community.”

Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees approves $85M budget for 2022-2023 school year prioritizing employee compensation and school security 

Architectural firms also selected to lead work for 2022 bond projects

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 28. During the meeting, the Board of Trustees adopted a balanced budget for the 2022-23 school year.

Montgomery ISD’s $85M budget for the 2022-2023 school year includes employee raises that were adopted in the district’s compensation plan by the board in April. Under the updated Montgomery ISD 2022-23 compensation plan, teachers will receive a $2,000 raise (approximately 3.5%), with all other employees receiving a 3% salary increase. Additionally, all employees returning to MISD next year will receive a $1,000 retention stipend, with “high needs” positions in specialized learning and transportation receiving an additional $500.

The 2022-23 budget also includes investments in school security, Special Education, and Gifted & Talented programs. These investments include two additional district police personnel, which will bring a total of seven new positions to the district’s police department since 2020. With the two new positions allocated for 2022-23, the department will have the personnel to ensure each campus has a dedicated police officer. The budget also includes a Gifted and Talented Coordinator and increased Specialized Learning Department staffing.

“A school district’s budget should be a reflection of the community’s values,” Board Vice President Laurie Turner said. “We are pleased that the budget is balanced, our teachers and staff are receiving pay increases, and there are targeted investments to continue our district’s commitment to enhance school security and add positions for specialized learning needs – all important priorities for our community.”

In addition to these items included in the budget, trustees authorized the purchases of “vape detection” systems to be placed at both high schools and identification cards that will be required to be visibly worn by all students in the 2022-23 school year. More information on student ID cards will be shared by the district prior to the start of the 2022-23 school year. The district is also in the process of purchasing handheld wands for campus security personnel. These items are intended to enhance the district’s continued focus on school safety and security.

“Maintaining a balanced budget while providing our outstanding teachers and staff members with pay increases are goals we aim to achieve every year, and I’m proud we continued to make these top priorities,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “I’m especially proud that we achieved these important goals despite receiving below the state average in terms of funding per student. Over the last several months we have been exploring our school district’s revenues and are concerned about a growing gap as it relates to what Montgomery ISD receives per student compared to other school districts.”

In 2016-2017, Montgomery ISD received $7,499 per student, with the state average being $9,577 per student – a difference of $2,078. In 2019-2020, Montgomery ISD received $8,070 per student, with the state average being $10,810 – a difference of $2,740.

Montgomery ISD is also considered a “property wealthy” school district in Texas state school finance law. As a result, the district is subject to a provision under the law often referred to as “recapture” or “Robin Hood”, whereby the district must send a portion of its local property tax revenues to the state for redistribution to other school districts and charter schools. For 2022-23, approximately 75% of the district’s general fund revenues will be sourced from local property tax collections, with the remaining 25% coming from state and federal sources. In May 2022, the district was required to send $548,521 in local tax revenues to the state under recapture, bringing the district’s total amount of recapture to $6.5 million since 2013. The district’s recapture obligation is expected to increase in 2023 due to rising property values. 

“We have already engaged in productive conversations with our state legislative delegation regarding the revenue and recapture concerns we are experiencing in Montgomery ISD,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “We’re looking forward to working with them as they prepare for the 2023 legislative session. Without targeted changes to state school finance formulas, the funding gap between MISD and other school districts will continue to widen and we will be challenged to maintain a balanced budget while prioritizing enhancing employee compensation and other programs desired by the community.”

The district’s total tax rate is currently $1.26 per $100 of assessed value. With voter approval of the district’s $326.7 million bond proposal in the May 2022 election, the rate is anticipated to increase by less than a penny to $1.267, once all bonds are sold. However, under state property tax compression law, Montgomery ISD anticipates that the tax rate will be reduced this fall by approximately three cents to $1.23 due to the recent increase in assessed property values. 

The board and district have also taken action on items related to the voter-approved bond package. Trustees authorized the sale of $99 million in bonds to begin work for Elementary 7 and Phase 2 of Lake Creek High School. The interest rate associated with this bond sale will not necessitate an increase to the district’s tax rate.

The Board, at a recent special meeting also approved the selection of two architectural firms to lead the design of major bond projects. 

Huckabee Architects was selected for phase two of Lake Creek HS, Elementary School 7, the MISD Career and Technical Education Center and the MISD Ag-Science Center. Huckabee will also design the facility upgrades at Keenan ES, Oak Hills JH and Lake Creek HS. 

PBK Architects has been selected for the MISD Athletic Complex as well as facility upgrades at the other seven MISD campuses, including Montgomery, Lincoln, Madeley Ranch, Lone Star, and Stewart Creek elementary schools and both Montgomery HS and Montgomery JH. 

“We are very excited to continue our partnership with Huckabee Architects and begin a new relationship with PBK Architects,” Morrison said. “Each of these firms is highly respected and we are more than confident that they will contribute extraordinary value as we design facilities that will not only accommodate our growing district but also make our community proud of the educational learning environments available to students.”

The district anticipates providing the community with additional bond updates regarding land acquisition and the selection of a construction manager at-risk for Lake Creek High School and Elementary School #7 in the coming weeks.  

Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees recognizes district’s bond task force, swears in new board member

Nate Robb sworn in as new trustee for Position 7; Board selects new officer positions for 2022-23 school year

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees held a regularly scheduled monthly meeting on May 17, 2022. Trustees began the meeting by recognizing the MISD Community Bond Task Force for their efforts beginning in September 2021 to create a bond proposal that would be presented to the board in January and was supported by the community in the May 7 election.

Members of Community Bond Task Force that attended the meeting

Montgomery ISD had three bond propositions on the May 7 election ballot. Proposition A passed with 64.43% voting in favor, Proposition B passed with 57.41% voting in favor and Proposition C passed with 65.28% voting in favor. Montgomery ISD was one of only seven districts in Texas to pass three of three bond propositions.

“The work of our district Community Bond Task Force was critical to the success of our bond ultimately receiving approval from voters in our community,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “We were intentional in making sure that the committee included parents and staff from each campus as well as community members and business owners that have a vested interest in Montgomery ISD. Additionally, we wanted this bond proposal to truly be a reflection of what our community needs, and we accomplished that thanks to the involvement and commitment of these individuals.”

The Board of Trustees also took time to recognize students and staff in Montgomery ISD Ag programs. Students from each high school’s FFA leadership team shared their accomplishments from the year. The 2022 Bond approved by voters includes a Centralized CTE and Ag-Science Center to serve students at both MISD high schools.

“I’m very pleased that our community supported projects in the bond to enhance Career and Technical Education and Ag-Science opportunities for our students,” Trustee Shawn Denison said. “I’m proud to be a member of a board and leadership team that has a strong focus on serving the needs of all students through CTE, preparing them for success in the college or career of their choice after high school.”

The May 7 election also resulted in a new member for the Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees. During the meeting, Nate Robb was officially sworn in as a trustee for Position 7 by Judge Wayne Mack. Robb will serve a three-year term.

“I’m honored for the opportunity to serve our community as a school board member and be involved in the amazing work happening in Montgomery ISD,” Robb said. “The 2022 bond program is going to allow for significant progress over the next several years as we continue to address the growth in our area, and I cannot wait to get to work supporting our teachers and staff as they continue to provide an amazing education to our students.”

Robb was also a member of the Montgomery ISD Bond Task Force.

Following the swearing in of Robb as a trustee, the MISD Board of Trustees voted to appoint board leadership positions. Dr. Matt Fuller was re-selected as Board President, Laurie Turner was selected as Board Vice-President and Linda Porten will continue as Board Secretary.

“Continuing to serve as Board President is an absolute honor,” Fuller said. “We have an outstanding group of individuals on our board who truly care about the success of our students and are fully committed to supporting our employees at a time that is very challenging for educators. I’m excited to get to work on the projects that our community approved through the bond and I consider it an amazing blessing to serve our community in this capacity.”

We Are Montgomery Awards Banquet honors 2021-2022 educators and leaders

Montgomery ISD is proud to recognize the amazing work of staff throughout the 2021-2022 sschool year. At the annual awards banquet last night, each campus Teacher of the Year, Spirit of Montgomery Award Winner and Department MVP was recognized and overall district winners were announced.

Montgomery ISD Campus Teachers of the Year

Montgomery ISD Campus Spirit of Montgomery Winners

Montgomery ISD Department MVPs

MISD Spirit of Montgomery Winner: Lilia Salas-Nino, MES

Lilia has been working in Montgomery ISD for two years and is a paraprofessional at MES. Lilia says that she enjoys every minute of her job, from the morning duty of receiving children into the cafeteria with a smile on her face as they share the happenings of their life with her, to being in the classroom and seeing students make progress after working so hard. Lilia is most passionate about helping the Spanish-speaking families that arrive at the school, often nervous and unable to speak English, and her ability to welcome them in their own language, being empathetic and sharing her personal experience. She says she is quick to let them know that they have arrived at the best school district and that their kids will have exactly the opportunities they brought them here for. When she talks about the staff at MES, she says they have filled the void that came when she left her home county, becoming her second family, and they are the balm to her soul.

MISD MVP Arthur Ford Award Winner: Sandra Pesl

Sandra is the Secretary of our MISD Maintenance Department and has been serving in this role for over 5 years. Before working in this position, she was a paraprofessional substitute for the district. Sandra says that her favorite part of the job is working with her co-workers and helping others when there is something that needs to be done on a campus or at a district facility. She has selflessly served on the District Advisory Committee since 2019, representing the Maintenance department in that role and helping to support the plans for MISD.

MISD Counselor of the Year: DeAnna Peterson, LES

DeAnna has worked in Montgomery ISD for 20 years and has spent the last 9 as an elementary counselor. DeAnna believes that her calling to being a school counselor is one of service to others and she takes great pride in making sure that her school community has what they need to support their students however they need it. Being in Montgomery ISD for so long and raising her children here, DeAnna has seen the growth and change and truly believes that our people are what matter most, helping her to always prioritize customer service to her students and her families. Even though each child and family that comes to her is not the only one on her list on any given day, she believes that they must know that they are the most important at the time they are seeking her assistance. It is her great pleasure to take care of people, both students and adults.

MISD Elementary Teacher of the Year: Dr. Russell Ballenger, SCE

Russell is in his second year in Montgomery ISD as a music teacher at Stewart Creek Elementary School and is solely responsible for applying for and receiving over $5600 in grants and scholarships for his music program this year alone. Russell believes that each person is born musical and his job is to show his students how to access the musical and creative parts of themselves, making them better learners as he commits to understanding who his students are, meeting them where they are at, and formulating plans to ensure their growth. Because each student is different in their strengths and interests, his class makes music in many different ways, including singing, chanting, playing instruments and dancing. His music classroom is a place where wide ranges of skills and abilities are expected and appreciated, and he aims to pass the excitement of music making on to all SCE Trailblazers, giving them the tools to hopefully be music-makers for life.

MISD Secondary Teacher of the Year: Justin Williams, MHS

Justin Williams is in his 7th year in MISD, teaching AP Literature & Composition and Film as Literature classes at Montgomery High School and also serving as the Academic Decathlon Coach. Justin is responsible for creating the Film as Literature course that has grown from 30 students to 166 enrolled for next year. He has coached the Academic Decathlon team to State the last two years, with 4 State Champions and $3500 in student scholarships. His AP Literature students regularly score 30% higher on the AP exams than the state average and he serves on several MHS committees. When his students were asked what is special about his teaching, there were numerous responses including: “He makes every person in the room feel welcome everyday… Many times even the most interesting classes have their uninteresting moments, but I have never felt that way in Mr. Williams class… He cares enough to find out how we learn and meet us there… He has the most subtle, but charismatic approach to teaching in the classroom and he reaches every student, every day… He makes seniors come to school just to be in his classroom…” And lastly, “Every interaction with Mr. Williams solidifies how much he cares.”

MISD Assistant Principal of the Year: Kelly Lout, Lone Star ES

Kelly Lout has served in Montgomery ISD since 1996 as both a teacher and an administrator and has served as the Assistant Principal at Lone Star for 7 years. She is very well known for her endurance as a marathon runner, but her endurance as an educator is highly regarded as she cultivates a positive school culture with her staff and students. She is coordinator of all 504 and ARD meetings at LSE and works very closely with the BASE staff to support the special needs students on her campus. She helps to support her staff as a Leader In Me campus, continuously instilling leadership skills into all Longhorn students.

MISD Principal of the Year: Tim Williams, Oak Hills JH

Tim has worked in Montgomery ISD since 2013 and opened Oak Hills in 2017. He is known for his elaborate fundraising tactics and creating a culture at Oak Hills that is positive, encouraging and creates a place where each student and staff member wants to come each day and are able to thrive. His ability to build relationships and create a family atmosphere on his campus has proven to serve his students and staff academically, emotionally and physically while he welcomes parent involvement and has a fabulous amount of parental support. His leadership skills helped him emerge to the top of an incredibly challenging pool of candidates to become the principal of Lake Creek HS next year and the amount of community support around that decision is no surprise thanks to his ability to authentically connect with Oak Hills parents, staff and students.

Congratulations to all Montgomery ISD award recipients. #TeamMontgomery is better because of the difference you make each and every day.

Montgomery ISD Valedictorians and Salutatorians looking to the future as graduation approaches

Graduation is just two weeks away and these students have bright futures ahead of them after Montgomery ISD.

Asia Kennett: Lake Creek HS Valedictorian

Asia Kennett is the oldest of three children and has spent her childhood “following the oil” with her father’s work. She moved to Montgomery in 8th grade from Kazakhstan and with confusion on whether she needed to be in 7th or 8th grade. She asked for the challenge to go ahead and go to 8th. She is thankful for Mrs. Hoffart at Oak Hills JH for helping her get on track and caught up in math so she could be prepared for high school.

Asia is headed to Arizona State University as a student at The Barrett Honors College, with plans to major in Medical Microbiology and Pre-Law, hoping to pursue a career as a Bio-ethicist. She has been a four-year tennis player for the Lions, served as Student Council officer and is or has been a member of Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society, Chess Club, UIL Academics, Club ROAR, Mu Alpha Theta and even the Hacky Sack Club. Outside of school, she is a member of Cotillion, National Charity League, Young Life and is very active in her church activities.

Asia says she worked hard in every class she took, but always made sure she was taking classes that interested her and would challenge her. She thanks Mrs. Lorrance, her sophomore English teacher, for being so wise and always motivating her, as well as Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Boyles for encouraging her and always making her feel like there was a teacher looking out for students and teaching life lessons. Asia is excited to move to the dynamic city of Phoenix and see what God has in store for her next.

Claire Groner: Montgomery HS Valedictorian

Along with being Valedictorian, Claire Groner is also the 2022 Academic Decathlon State Champion. She will be attending Texas A&M University this fall to study Business Honors with plans to go to law school and pursue a career as a Business Attorney.

Claire has served on Student Council since her freshman year and is also an officer for National Honor Society, President of the Young Republicans and is a former member of the Bears swim team. Outside of school she participates in National Charity League.

Claire would like to thank Mr. Barnes, her 9th grade Geometry teacher who pushed her from the beginning to always be her best. She also really appreciates the support of Mr. Villamez and Mr. Williams, her Academic Decathlon coaches who she considers to be teachers that motivate and challenge her to always do a little bit more, helping her to secure the State Championship title.

Jacob Whitaker: Lake Creek HS Salutatorian

Jacob Whitaker is headed to The University of Texas in Austin to major in Journalism and hopes to attend Law School when he completes his undergraduate work.

Jacob is an All-State swimmer for the Lions and has advanced to the state meet in Butterfly three of his four years, placing 4th both his junior and senior years. In addition to swimming, Jacob also participates in Speech and Debate and is the Co-founder of the LCHS Chess Club. Outside of school, Jacob is very competitive in Jui Jitsu.

Jacob remembers his 6th grade ELA teacher, Mrs. Scanlon and his 6th and 8th grade Science teacher Mrs. McFadden as being amazing teachers. He shares that Mrs. Scanlon setup her classroom in a way that allowed for freedom of choice when choosing what to study and he says that was the best class he’s ever taken. He also wants to thank his swim coaches in and out of school, Coach James, Coach Villamez and Coach Kagel for always keeping him disciplined and helping him become a better swimmer and person, and he says that Mrs. Cox and Mrs. Hannel have been his favorite teachers in high school as they are both really understanding and ‘just really great teachers’.

Alex Underwood: Montgomery HS Salutatorian

Alex Underwood has dreams of being a trauma doctor in the Army and is attending UNC Chapel Hill to major in Pre-Med on an Army scholarship.

Alex is very active on her campus as a student and an athlete. She served as the Captain of the Bears Cross Country team and also runs track and field. She is the current President of both UIL Academics and Mu Alpha Beta, the Math Honors Society, and is an active service member in National Honor Society.

Alex would like to recognize Mrs. Strickland, her 8th grade Health Teacher and Mrs. Lawson, her Advanced and AP Chemistry teacher, for inspiring her to follow the science path and being such wonderful teachers. She also says that Mr. Williams always provides a space in which all students feel safe to explore and not feel the pressure that grades are everything.

Montgomery ISD is very proud to recognize these students and the work they have put into their academic endeavors through high school. If the way in which they represent their campus and serve their graduating class as leaders and committed students is any indication of what’s to come, their futures look very bright.

Grant Cooper named Head Football Coach and Athletic Coordinator of Montgomery High School

MHS graduate and current Offensive Coordinator chosen as next leader of Bears

Grant Cooper has been selected as the Head Football Coach and Athletic Director of the Montgomery High School Bears for the 2022-2023 school year.

Cooper is no stranger to Montgomery High School. He has served as the Offensive Coordinator for MHS Football since 2013 as well as the Head Boys Track Coach since 2015. He is a 2007 graduate of Montgomery High School and played college football at Hardin Simmons University from 2007-2010.

“We believe Cooper’s relationships with players, parents and staff, combined with his incredible ability to lead and motivate student-athletes makes him the best selection for this role,” MISD Athletic Director Clint Heard said. “The interview process brought a very talented pool of coaches from all over the state, and Grant continued to impress us with his vision for Bears football and the entire athletic program.”

Cooper will take over the lead of Montgomery High School Athletics following the announcement of John Bolfing’s retirement earlier this year. Bolfing was the head football coach at MHS for 19 years, having coached Grant himself in his first two years in Montgomery.

“To follow in Coach Bolfing’s footsteps is an incredible honor,” Cooper said. “I have learned so much from him, personally and professionally, and I look forward to continuing to build on and enhance the great foundation of this winning program.”

Cooper will begin head coaching responsibilities as the team continues competing in 7 on 7 tournaments, lineman challenges, and throughout their intense plan for summer workouts, and says that the first game at the MISD Stadium is going to be a really special moment for him.

“We have such amazing student-athletes here at Montgomery High School,” Cooper said. “The standard is excellence with the way they take care of business in the classroom and on the field, court, course, track or pool. This is an absolute privilege and I cannot wait to get to work.”

Cooper is married to his high school sweetheart, Angela Storseth-Cooper, and together, they are thankful for this incredible opportunity.

“I know these players, this program, this school and this community,” Cooper said. “No one is going to match my passion for Montgomery High School and bleed purple and gold the way I do.”

Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees takes action after community approves 2022 bond proposal

Trustees authorize purchase of new buses and search for construction firm to manage high-priority projects

During a special meeting, the Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees approved the purchase of 15 new school buses and authorized the district to issue a Request for Qualifications for a construction manager as the district initiates the planning stages for the construction of Elementary School 7 and phase two of Lake Creek High School.

These actions come after the Montgomery ISD voters approved all three propositions on the 2022 MISD bond referendum, which was included on the May 7 election ballot. The MISD Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of the buses to be made with dollars from the general fund, with intent to reimburse once bond funds have been secured by the district.

“We’re grateful that our community saw the dire need to purchase new school buses as part of the 2022 bond program,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “With a significant delay in school bus delivery due to supply chain challenges, we felt that it was important to place the order now in order to get these buses added to our fleet as soon as possible.”

The need for buses was addressed in the project list on Proposition A of the approved bond, along with the construction of a seventh elementary school and phase two of Lake Creek HS to address the increase in student populations in the Stewart Creek ES and Keenan ES feeder patterns. During bond town hall meetings, district leadership shared that these two construction projects would be top priorities if the community approved the proposal.

“One of our core values throughout this process was a commitment to transparency,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “We also consistently communicated in conversations with the community that we would not get ahead of voters by starting project plans before seeing results of the election. With that, in order to open Elementary School 7 and complete Phase Two of Lake Creek in time for the 2024-2025 school year, we need to begin the process of planning and design now. Thanks to the support of our community, we can get started with posting the Request for Qualifications and seeking our construction management partner for these two large projects.”

Other items included in Proposition A include campus and facility upgrades across the district and land purchases for the seventh elementary school and future centralized CTE and Ag-Science Centers, as well as comparability improvements at all campuses, athletic facilities and fine arts programs. The district’s projection for completing all projects is four to five years.

More information on the Montgomery ISD 2022 Bond can be found at

Gifford Whitehead named Principal of Oak Hills JH

Whitehead returns as leader of Oak Hills Junior High after time at Lake Creek HS 

After an extensive search and competitive interview process with both internal and external candidates, Montgomery ISD has selected Gifford Whitehead as the next Principal of Oak Hills Junior High.  

“Mr. Whitehead is a highly regarded and well-respected leader in our district,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “His ability to connect with students and staff and communicate effectively with families has been proven throughout his time in Montgomery ISD and I have utmost confidence in the direction of Oak Hills Junior High School under his leadership.”  

Whitehead opened Oak Hills JH as Assistant Principal in 2017 and served four years in that capacity, before moving to Lake Creek as an Assistant for the 2021-2022 school year. Before opening Oak Hills, Whitehead served as Assistant Principal at Montgomery Middle School, Lynn Lucas Middle School (Willis ISD) and taught at Montgomery HS, Huntsville HS and Lockhart JH.  

Having previously served as an AP at Oak Hills, Whitehead’s leadership and established relationships will make for a smooth transition and continue to enhance the culture in place at Oak Hill Junior High School. Whitehead brings to this position nearly a decade of experience as an administrator at the secondary level. His work as an Assistant Principal at Lake Creek High School this year has also been recognized as outstanding, particularly in the areas of connecting with students, effectively communicating with families, and leading teachers.

“The secondary level is where my heart has always been, and I’m thrilled for the opportunity to return to Oak Hills,” Whitehead said. “My passion is supporting the growth of students who are at the point in their lives when they are trying to figure out who they are, where they fit in and what kind of person they want to be. Leading and supporting the amazing staff in place at Oak Hills that take this the journey alongside our students will be a privilege.” 

Whitehead is married to Montgomery JH Science teacher Melanie Whitehead and together they have three daughters in Montgomery ISD. Abigail is 15 and attends Montgomery HS, Aleah is 14 and attends Montgomery JH and Ashlynn is 11 and attends Montgomery ES. He is a graduate of East Texas Baptist University with a bachelor’s degree in Education. Whitehead received his Master’s of Education in Instructional Leadership from Sam Houston State University in 2012.  

“His knowledge of the campus and the Lion community and his relationships with staff and families will provide for a smooth transition in both leadership and style,” Morrison said. “The next chapter of Oak Hills is being written and I’m excited about what lies ahead.”