Montgomery ISD board members sworn into office

Trustees also select board officer positions for 2021-22 school year and receive update on district strategic plan

Two Montgomery ISD trustees were sworn into office during the board’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 18. Montgomery County Justice of the Peace, Judge Wayne Mack administered the oath of office to Trustees Trey Kirby (Position 4) and Linda Porten (Position 5), who were both re-elected on May 1, 2021. 

Kirby and Porten will both serve three-year terms. Kirby, a resident of Montgomery since 1987 and graduate of Montgomery High School, begins his third term on the MISD Board of Trustees.

“It’s an honor to have been elected to a third term as a member of the Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees,” Kirby said. I am excited to continue serving with the board and administration as we build upon the momentum we have achieved as a team. We remain committed to improving fiscal responsibility while taking care of our outstanding students and teachers. This community is very dear to me, and I look forward to serving for the next three years as Montgomery continues to grow and thrive.”

Porten, a lifelong educator who spent several years as an employee in Montgomery ISD, enters her second term on the Board.

“It’s a privilege to serve as a member of the Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees,” Porten said. “As a trustee, I’m committed to continuing to build upon the significant progress the board and superintendent have made to support our amazing teachers and staff through increased compensation. There is no doubt in my mind that our commitment to hiring, growing and retaining the best educators will empower all MISD students to achieve even greater academic results.”  

After the oaths of office, trustees voted to elect its board leadership for the 2021-22 school year. Trustees selected Matt Fuller to continue serving as Board President. Gary Hammons will continue serving as Board Vice-President and Linda Porten will remain Board Secretary. 

“I want to thank our staff, students, and families for their determination, resilience, and flexibility during what has been a difficult, but highly successful school year,” Fuller said. “Through extreme adversity, our students reached new heights in academics, athletics and many extracurricular activities. I’m excited to continue serving Montgomery ISD as President of the Board of Trustees and look forward to an outstanding – and more normal – school year in 2021-22.”

Trustees gave special recognition to the district’s school nurses during the meeting. School nurses were instrumental in supporting students’ physical and emotional wellbeing during a school year with added stresses and health protocols.

“It undoubtedly took a full team effort to safely re-open schools for in-person instruction this year, and the work of our school nurses was especially critical,” Trustee Mike Hopkins said. “They were a primary reason that nearly 94% of our students chose to physically return to school, and we are incredibly grateful for their dedication and work this year.”

During the meeting, trustees also received an update on the development of the district’s strategic plan. The three-year strategic plan is guided the Board of Trustees’ five adopted district goals. The district goals are Academic Achievement; School Safety; Finance & Operations; Human Capital; and Communications & Customer Service. 

The development of the strategic plan has included a significant amount of community and stakeholder input. To gather feedback, the district formed five task force work groups in November 2020, each focused on a district goal. The five task forces were led by a senior district administrator and campus principals and included district teachers, staff, parents, students and community members. The district also held three town hall meetings throughout the school year to gather community input.

“We’re thrilled by the high level of community involvement that has been a driving force in the development of the district’s strategic plan,” Trustee Laurie Turner said. “We have made it clear that we truly want this to be the Montgomery ISD community’s strategic plan. Based on the district’s efforts to involve a diverse set of voices during this process, I’m confident that, once adopted by the board, this objective will have been achieved.”  

Once approved by the board, the final strategic plan will take effect starting in the 2021-22 school year and contain measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) in the areas addressed by the district goals. The strategic plan will also outline district strategies and initiatives intended to meet or exceed growth targets and measures outlined in the KPIs.

The strategic plan is scheduled to be approved by trustees during the board’s regular monthly meeting on June 15, 2021. 

“Since day one of this process, our goal for the strategic plan was to authentically reflect the community’s desires and vision for our school district,” Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison said. “Our community’s vision is for Montgomery ISD to be ‘The Premier School District in Texas. The strategic plan is our ‘pathway to premier’.” 

Montgomery ISD Weather Alert – Wednesday, May 19

All Montgomery ISD schools and offices will be OPEN on Wednesday, May 19.

Roads in the district have been evaluated. Buses, schools and district offices will operate under normal hours. The decision to remain open today was made in consultation with Montgomery County officials and neighboring school districts.

Please exercise caution while traveling. We will continue to monitor weather and road conditions throughout the day.

Montgomery ISD Weather Alert

Tuesday, May 18

WEATHER ALERT: Montgomery ISD is closely monitoring the heavy rains predicted to impact our region. In the event weather dictates any changes to regular school operations, we will make an announcement on Wednesday, May 19 no later than 5 a.m. after receiving an update from local officials.

Lone Star~Second Graders Release Painted Lady Butterflies

For the past three weeks Mrs. Williams & Mrs. Kuykendall have opened their classrooms up to some new friends, the Painted Lady Butterflies. Second grade students observed the different life cycle stages of the butterfly as they underwent complete metamorphosis. They discovered and documented the physical and behavioral changes that a butterfly goes through. On Friday, they were able to complete the unit by releasing their Painted Lady Butterflies into the garden.

The MISD Minute – May 14, 2021

2021-22 Employee Salary Letters

Today, all Montgomery ISD employees received a letter detailing their salaries for the 2021-22 school year. As I shared with you during our budget “roadshow” meetings, this is another step in our effort to improve processes, communication and transparency around district compensation.

The letter you all received includes a breakdown of your salary to start the 2020-21 school year, salary to start the 2021-22 school year and any stipends you receive. It also shows a breakdown of the October 2020 raises and the raises approved as part of the 2021-22 compensation plan. The employee raises and restoration of stipends adopted by the Board of Trustees in the 2021-22 compensation plan take effect on July 1, 2021, or at the start of your 2021-22 duty schedule.

The compensation plan adopted by the board was a significant effort to bring clarity and improved processes to provide employees with a clear understanding of how they are compensated. The salary letter that was provided – in advance of your contracts – is another step in our commitment to improve in this area. Contracts will be sent out via email next week.

The external review of district human resources functions performed by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) earlier this school year documented many areas of needed improvement. Please know that this is the first year of a multi-year effort to address the issues documented in the TASB study, especially in the area of determining compensation. We welcome any questions, issues or concerns that you may have during this process. If you have a question or inquiry, please fill out the form you received in the email from HR on Thursday, May 13 and submit it back to HR. This is your salary and we are committed to making this process as clear and smooth as possible. I hope this shows our commitment to collaborating, listening, continuing efforts to address any issues identified during this process.

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Board of Trustees Certifies May 1 Election Results

This week, the official results of the May 1, 2021 Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees election were certified by trustees during a special board meeting. Trey Kirby and Linda Porten were both re-elected to serve three-year terms as members of the MISD Board of Trustees.

I want to thank everyone who ran for the MISD Board of Trustees in this election. Through my years of serving as a district superintendent, I have had the privilege of working with many outstanding school board trustees and getting to know some amazing candidates. What is often common amongst all who wish to serve on a board of trustees is their passion for improving the education and lives of children. Each of the individuals who ran for the board this year shared this same core value. I look forward to continuing to work with Trustee Trey Kirby, Trustee Linda Porten and all other members of the of the MISD board of trustees to ensure we are delivering a high quality education to the more than 9,000 students in Montgomery ISD.

Board of Trustees Regular Monthly Meeting Next Week

On Tuesday, May 18, the Board of Trustees will meet for its regular monthly board meeting at the MISD Education Service Center. At the meeting, Trustees Trey Kirby and Linda Porten will be sworn into office to begin their next three-year terms. Additionally, the board will organize itself by selecting officers for the next year.

Following these actions, the district will provide the board with updates on various items. Most notably we will provide overviews of the 2021-22 district budget as well as the development of the district strategic plan. Both the 2021-22 budget and strategic plan will be adopted by trustees during the June regular board meeting.

Superintendent Shout-OutMHS Holds Fine Arts College Signing Day

On Thursday, Montgomery HS held a special signing ceremony for students who will be continuing in the Performing and Visual Arts in college. We are incredibly proud of this outstanding and talented group of students for choosing to continue their academic journeys at 4-year universities across the country. The list of students, their major and college destination is below. Congratulations, Bears!

Madison Fields

School: Texas State University

Major: Fine Arts and Communications

Savannah Horton

School: Baylor University

Major: Bachelor of Music Education – Choral Emphasis

Quinn McClendon

School: Stephen F. Austin University

Major: Bachelor of Music Education – Choral Emphasis

Kaeden Ottinger

School: Colorado Mesa University

Major: Bachelor of Arts – Musical Theatre

Case Wyrick

School: Sam Houston State University

Major: Bachelor of Music Education – Band Emphasis

Lauren Ferro

School: University of Texas in Austin

Major: Radio Television and Film

Sebastian Saavedra

School: Utah Valley University

Major: Digital Cinema and Software Engineering

William Hearn

School: Sam Houston State University

Major: Mass Communication and Broadcast Production

Two MISD Instructional Coaches Selected to TAGT Emerging Leaders Program

This week, MISD instructional coaches Jennifer Ellis and Lorra Lynch, were selected to the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented 2021-22 Emerging Leaders Program. Ms. Ellis and Ms. Lynch were just two of 13 leaders in education selected from across the state of Texas.

TAGT’s Emerging Leaders Program provides district G/T coordinators with the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with school staff, parents, students, and the community to positively impact the development of appropriate educational services for G/T students in the district. TAGT connects and empowers educators and parents to meet the unique needs of G/T students from every cultural background who see the world in unique ways and are developing minds that just might discover innovative answers to the most challenging questions of their generation.

We’re proud and excited to have two outstanding leaders representing Montgomery ISD in this program.

Virtual Youth Safety Summit Helps Students Sharpen Safety Skills

The Texas School Safety Center is partnering with Extreme Youth Leadership to host the TxSSC Youth Safety Summit this summer. This virtual event features opportunities for students to develop and expand their safety skills and learn how to improve their school and/or community through projects while connecting with their peers from across Texas.

The three day event is FREE, but spots are limited. For more information and to submit a registration application, click on the link below.

https://txssc.txstate.edu/events/youth-safety/

MISD Board of Trustees Certifies May 1 Election Results

The official results of the May 1, 2021 Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees election were certified during a special board meeting on Tuesday, May 11.

The official election results are as follows:

Position #4

Trey Kirby (incumbent)

            TOTAL: 568

Christina Sato

            TOTAL: 351

Jay Grimes

            TOTAL: 243

Position #5

Linda Porten (incumbent)

            TOTAL: 854

The MISD Minute – May 7, 2021

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week

May has arrived, end of the year banquets and celebrations are taking place and graduation planning is in full swing. The end of the 2020-21 school year is right around the corner.

It is Teacher Appreciation Week! And I would never allow this week to end without a special message to the amazing professionals educating our students in the classroom. In a year like no other, teachers have stepped up for our students and families like never before. They have approached the historic challenges thrown our way this year with patience, perseverance, dedication and even a bit of creativity. When our students needed compassion – that’s what they gave them. When our students needed additional help – they were there to lend a hand. And, when students needed some inspiration to reach the finish line, teachers were there to provide them with that final boost. Teachers, you are the heart and soul of our school district. You are the incredible heroes who inspire me each and every day.

Teachers, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your kindness, generosity and love for our students. While teachers are worthy of year-round celebration, please join me in showing your appreciation to them this week.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Sincerely,

Dr. Heath Morrison

Update on 2021-22 secondary campus schedules

For the 2021-22 school year, all secondary campuses will shift back to a straight 8-period schedule. Additionally, no secondary teacher will be required to instruct in a “hybrid” model with both in-person and remote learners.

I want to acknowledge the excellent collaboration between our secondary administrators and counselors on the decision to move back to the 8-period schedule next year. When I first arrived as superintendent, I heard a number of concerns from teachers regarding the process and lack of input prior to shifting to a block schedule this school year. Our team committed to a collaborative process in the development of next year’s secondary campus schedules. Earlier this spring, we convened administrators and counselors from all secondary schools to explore options. Campus leadership teams went back to their schools, and the consensus was for the district to return to the 8-period day (the schedule prior to the pandemic). I appreciate all of the work that went into this decision.

We will always examine the best instructional options for our students and schools and involve staff in those decisions. I hope this decision, along with knowing that teachers will not be required to implement a hybrid model next year comes as welcome news to our secondary teachers.

2020-21 District Award Winners Celebrated

This week we celebrated our district teachers of the year, counselors of the year, District MVPs and Spirit of Montgomery Award winners during a reception at Lake Creek High School. It was only fitting that this celebration take place during Teacher Appreciation Week. So, it was a special honor to recognize our district winners during this reception. Again, thank you to all of our district winners. Your contributions to our district were magnified during this unprecedented school year.

You can view more photos from the district awards reception here.

Montgomery ES Principal Search Underway

This week the district held meetings at Montgomery ES with campus staff and parents regarding the search for their new principal. Before starting the process of screening and interviewing candidates, it was important to us that we receive input from MES staff and parents regarding their next campus leader. We asked staff and parents for qualities, skills and characteristics they believe are important for the next principal to possess and to share what procedures, programs or other school areas they want the new principal to maintain or continue to grow. It was made very clear to us that the existing work and academic expectations that have been put in place at Montgomery ES under Carrie Fitzpatrick’s leadership is viewed as strong by the staff and parents. We look forward to identifying candidates who can build upon the solid foundation at Montgomery ES.

Next week, we will continue our process to identify the new principal of Montgomery ES. Our goal is to recommend a candidate for approval to the Board of Trustees during a special board meeting in May.

Process for Identifying New District Leaders

I wanted to shine some light on the extensive process that we have been utilizing to identify district leadership. The district hiring process includes the following:

  • Every job opening in Montgomery ISD is posted on our district website for at least 10 days. We also place the openings on industry-specific job boards like the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas Association of School Business Officials.
  • Applicants are pre-screened by a group of two to three staff members and select up to eight internal and external candidates for a first round of interviews.
  • A panel of staff members (senior leadership, principals, other district and campus employees) conduct a first round of interviews.
  • After the first round of interviews has been completed, the panel will select candidates to advance to a second round of interviews. My charge to every first round interview panel is to identify at least one person they believe could successfully take on the role for which they are interviewing. If this is not accomplished, then the process stops and we will continue to search for candidates.
  • Next, a second round of interviews occurs. The second round interview panel will include me, members of the senior leadership team, and at least one individual who served on the panel for the first round of interviews to ensure consistency.
  • After conducting a second round of interviews, the senior leadership team deliberates and selects a candidate to recommend to the board of trustees for final approval during a regular or special board meeting. If necessary, we will hold a third round of interviews.

When I joined as your superintendent in June 2020, concerns, with how we were sourcing and hiring employees were shared with me by many in our community. An external review of our Human Resources Department by the Texas Association of School Boards confirmed that this is an area where improvement is needed. This new process of sourcing, interviewing and selecting leaders in our district is intended to provide an unbiased and fair opportunity to all who desire to either join or advance their career in Montgomery ISD.

Masks and facial coverings to become optional beginning May 31

As we prepare for a more normal school year in 2021-22, and consistent with the MISD Board of Trustees’ action during the March Regular Board Meeting, the use of masks or facial coverings will become optional in all district schools and facilities beginning Monday, May 31.

We will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 conditions in Montgomery County and seek advice from public health officials. And, as I have stated many times this year, all decisions are “subject to change”. However, we are very encouraged by the improving positivity rates, increased number of fully vaccinated individuals and predicted continued progress across Texas and the nation in the fight against the virus.

I want to thank you all for your patience, understanding and flexibility as it relates to the district’s COVID-19 protocols this year. Due in large part to health protocols in place, and your adherence to them, we were able to minimize the spread of COVID-19, safely open and operate schools beginning in August and provide traditional in-person instruction to over 94% of our more than 9,000 students this school year. I could not be more proud of the resilience and determination of our students and staff this year. We will continue to provide updates on district health protocols as we prepare for the 2021-22 school year.

Superintendent Shout-Out: District Teachers of the Year, MVP and Spirit of Montgomery Winners

We were excited to announce our Elementary Teacher of the Year, Secondary Teacher of the Year, District MVP Winner and Spirit of Montgomery Winner during the district 2020-21 awards reception this week.

The 2020-21 winners are:

  • Elementary Teacher of the Year: Lauren Coughlin, Keenan ES
  • Secondary Teacher of the Year: Wendy Jebousek, Oak Hills JH
  • District MVP: Shara Phillips, Special Education Department
  • Spirit of Montgomery: Nikki Taylor, Keenan ES

The district winners were selected based on their responses to questions provided to all district finalists by the human resources department. Each finalist’s name, department and campus were redacted, and responses were scored by members of the senior leadership team based on a rubric, also developed by the human resources department.

Congratulations to our 2020-21 district winners, and thank you for your dedication to Montgomery ISD students and families!