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.  

Board of Trustees Meeting Recap: December 14, 2021

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees met for their regular scheduled meeting tonight.

Below are highlights of the meeting:

Special Recognition of Debbie Whitaker

In honor of her retirement after 23 years of service to Montgomery ISD, Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison and the Board of Trustees gave a special recognition to the Superintendent’s Secretary, Debbie Whitaker.

Debbie has worked in Montgomery ISD since 1998, having opened Montgomery High School with then-principal Bobby Morris. In 2002, she was named Secretary to the Superintendent and has worked as the administrative assistant to another four superintendents through her tenure in this position.

The role of Superintendent Secretary requires an abundance of responsibility, supporting the superintendent and the seven members of the MISD Board of Trustees. She manages the calendars of these individuals, as well as the senior leadership team and the ten campus principals. In addition to being the Superintendent’s Secretary, she has also held the role of District Investment Officer and until this school year, she managed the records and financials for the Montgomery ISD Education Foundation.

“While we are all thrilled for Debbie as she opens a new and exciting life chapter, her calm presence and friendship, and incredible knowledge of Montgomery ISD will be greatly missed,” Dr. Morrison said. “We celebrate her outstanding career, thank her for her years of service and dedication to Montgomery ISD and wish her all the best in the adventures that await.”

Trustees Presented with Results of District’s Financial Audit

During the meeting, trustees were presented with and accepted the results of the district’s annual fiscal year financial audit. The district’s third-party audit firm issued a clean audit that resulted in a significant deposit of revenues into the district’s general Maintenance and Operations fund. The increase to the fund balance was a result of additional revenues and efficient management of the district’s budget. Additionally, when financial ratings are released next year, the district expects to receive high marks as a result of the audit.

“Sound fiscal management is an area we highly prioritize as a district and Board of Trustees,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “We are extremely pleased by the results of this year’s audit, and the deposit into the general fund balance is a clear indication that our financial house is in order and the district’s budgets are being managed responsibly and effectively.”

Secondary Course Selection Guide Approved

Montgomery ISD Trustees also adopted the 2022-23 academic year secondary Course Selection Guide, which includes additions to course offerings at both the high school and junior high school levels.

Each spring, current and incoming students at the secondary level select courses offered in the district’s Course Selection Guide. Key changes include adding additional Advanced Placement (AP) and Dual Credit courses, including the AP Capstone Program, which encourages students to enroll in and take exams for AP courses.

Increasing the number of students participating in at least one advanced academic course is a stated goal in the district’s Pathway to Premier strategic plan.

In addition to increasing AP and Dual Credit course offerings, the Career and Technical Education (CTE) section of the district’s course guide has been enhanced to more adequately reflect how CTE courses offered by MISD are connected to career pathways and industry-based certifications. The changes to the course selection guide include additional offerings in Animal Science, Ag Mechanics, Plant Science, Architectural Design, Entrepreneurship, Manufacturing, STEM and in Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security.

The Junior High Course Selection Guide also has a change in Career and Technical Education. Students will now take one of five courses that align with high school CTE pathways, including Principles of Applied Engineering, Agriculture, Health Science, Human Services, and Business, Marketing & Finance.

“Continuing to grow and enhance Career and Technical Education opportunities for students in Montgomery ISD has been a major focus of district leadership and our community, and our Course Selection Guide reflects this priority,” Dr. Morrison said. “We believe that every Montgomery ISD student, when they receive their diploma, should be well prepared for the college or career opportunity of their choice, and CTE is critical to this value we hold as a district.”

Presentation on Goal 2: School Safety

During Board meetings, district leaders present updates to the Board of Trustees on the progress of various goals, departments and priorities in the strategic plan.

Montgomery ISD Chief of Police Stephen Phillips, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services and Innovation and Director of Community Services Courtney Dyer presented an update on Goal 2, which encompasses school safety.

You can see the update on Goal 2 presented to the Board of Trustees here.

Board Approves Healthcare Plan in Accordance with New State Law, SB 1444

Earlier this year, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1444. This bill states that Texas school districts who participate in TRS ActiveCare insurance may no longer offer more than one healthcare provider. Currently, Montgomery ISD offers healthcare coverage options under both TRS ActiveCare and Texas School Health Benefits Plan (TSHBP) and this new bill requires the district to select one provider by December 31, 2021.

Montgomery ISD Benefits and Employee Relations Coordinator, Teresa Tipton, has spent the last two months presenting the plan options to each campus and department to provide information and gather feedback and input. The district also issued a survey to all staff asking for their feedback regarding healthcare options. In her presentation to the Board of Trustees, Tipton shared the results of that survey as well as the plan summaries, premium information and her reports from meeting with both TRS ActiveCare and TSHBP. The results of the survey can be found on the district’s website.

After thorough analysis of both healthcare options, Mrs. Tipton presented the district’s recommendation to move forward with TSHBP as its sole healthcare plan provider. The board approved the recommendation, and this change takes effect at the start of the 2022-23 school year.

Board of Trustees Meeting Recap: November 16, 2021

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees met for their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, November 16. You can view the full meeting here and read the recap below.

Special Recognition of Montgomery ISD Substitutes 

National Substitute Educator Appreciation Day is Friday, November 19.

Great substitute educators are needed for any school to be successful, especially as our district has navigated through the challenges of this past year and a half.

During the November monthly board meeting, the Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees recognized our valued substitute educators as well as the district’s Absence Management Coordinator, Carol Reissig, who has worked to train and coordinate substitutes in Montgomery ISD since 1996 and manages almost 300 individuals in the districts pool of substitute educators. This year alone she has trained 125 new MISD substitute educators and has 28 more scheduled for training after the Thanksgiving holiday.  

In addition to recognizing Mrs. Reissig, it was important to recognize those who serve as substitute educators in Montgomery ISD. The Board of Trustees expressed their gratitude for the support this year as many community members have come forward to be trained and step in as substitute educators during a time when it was challenging to fully staff schools due to a rise of COVID-19 cases at the beginning of the school year. The district invited the substitutes who have accepted the most assignments (Top 10 most assignments) this school year to thank them publicly for their service to Montgomery ISD. Pictured below are those that could attend, with Carol Reissig and the MISD Board of Trustees.  


Montgomery ISD Recognizes Life-Saving Efforts of MISD Staff, EMS and Montgomery PD

On Thursday, October 7, during a routine band practice, Montgomery High School student Michael Rodriguez experienced a health-related emergency and was unresponsive for a short period of time. The immediate actions taken by the head trainer at Montgomery High School and first responders who quickly arrived on the scene to provide medical attention to Michael were heroic and Montgomery ISD took the opportunity to recognize their swift actions and thank them publicly.  

Head MHS Trainer Megan Ruble was first to respond and used life-saving measures until emergency responders arrived on the scene. EMS workers Reed Edelman, Samuel Hancock, Cain Pool, and Cameron Seulean then took over the scene and worked tirelessly to get Michael ready for transport to the local hospital, where he was put on a ventilator and treated. The work of Montgomery police officer Albert Chambers, who was one of the first to respond, was also recognized. To all the students, staff and trained professionals that answered the call of duty that day, Montgomery ISD says thank you.  

Board Approves New SIS and ERP Systems for Montgomery ISD

Montgomery ISD Director of Technology and Digital Learning Amanda Davis presented the district’s recommendation to change our Student Information Systems (SIS) and Enterprise (ERP) System to Skyward and the board approved her recommendation. After months of research and surveying staff and district stakeholders, it has been made clear that our current system does not meet the needs of our growing district. As the district continues to grow, It is imperative to have effective an SIS, where the district can have a s system in place that allows for a comprehensive view of each student’s progress as well as a well-functioning ERP suite that provides all employees with what is needed to operate successfully. Both systems are necessary building blocks for a robust digital learning culture with an emphasis on usability, mobility and scalability.  

With this meaningful change to district operations comes a well-developed implementation plan, including designated times for staff training before its launch in the 2022-2023 school year. Individuals will be selected in December to be a part of the district’s implementation plan and will guide the entire process. District staff such as counselors, front office staff, administrators, and campus TIMs will begin attending webinars and some in-person training beginning February of 2022. Learning modules will be assigned to all staff in May and June in preparation for our July 1, 2022, go-live date. Teachers, paraprofessionals, and campus/district support staff will attend training in the latter part of July and early August, with a trade-out day for PD built into the 2022-23 school year. Continuing education webinars for both the Student and Enterprise systems will be scheduled throughout the 2022-2023 school year to support the district’s transition. 

Skyward offers the scalability Montgomery ISD needs for its rapidly growing student population, ease of use for our staff and parents and will provide a comprehensive view of our entire organization from staffing to student progress. District leaders are confident that this important change will ensure the needs of our Montgomery ISD community are met.  

K-12 Insight Presents Districtwide Survey Results

In September of this school year, the district partnered with K-12 Insight, a national education support firm to develop surveys that addressed academics, student support, school leadership, family involvement, safety and behavior and school operations with parents, staff and secondary students. Parent and staff surveys were open from September 21- October 5 and surveys for secondary students were open from September 21-October 8.  

At the November 16 Board meeting, a representative from K-12 Insight presented the findings of the survey to the Board of Trustees. In K-12 Insight’s executive summary of the survey, it was shared that 39% of parents, 51% of staff and 56% of secondary students participated. Each of these are above the participation rates typically experienced in school district surveys across the state and nation. K-12 Insight indicated that the parent participation rate of 39% is extraordinarily high compared to other district surveys and that the community should be applauded for this level of engagement with the district.

Participants in the survey provided high marks for Montgomery ISD with regard to overall school quality, with 93% of parents, 88% of campus-based staff members and 75% of secondary students rating their school as excellent or good. It was also shared that participants gave some of the highest favorable responses (strongly agree or agree) to items in the Academic Support, Student Support, and Safety & Behavior dimensions.  

K-12 Insight shared the highest-ranking items and areas for most growth for each participant group as well as satisfaction rates of parents and staff for each department including Child Nutrition, Communications, Curriculum & Instruction, Finance, Human Resources, Maintenance, Police Department, Specialized Learning, Technology and Transportation.

Results were also shared in the area of employee experience and work environment, with questions asked to all staff survey participants in which 94% of employees shared that they are proud to work in Montgomery ISD.  

Survey results have been evaluated by each department and have been shared with all campus administrators as well. The district will use this important feedback as both baseline data for measuring key performance indicators in the Pathway to Premier Strategic Plan, as well as recognizing areas that need improvement. The district is thankful to all who participated and gave genuine and constructive feedback to Montgomery ISD.  

All survey results can be found on Montgomery ISD’s Transparency Page and the results for each individual campus can be found on the campus’ web page, under the News tab. 

Board of Trustees Meeting Recap and Video: October 19, 2021

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees met for their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 19. You can view the full video here and read the recap below

 At the beginning of the meeting, trustees gave a special recognition to the Montgomery High School Madrigal Choir for their recent award, being named a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence National Choral Honors Project. The MHS Choir, led by Director Heather Orr, competed against 236 of the finest musical ensembles in the nation, from 38 different states. The board recognized this remarkable achievement and thanked Mrs. Orr for the continued level of excellence she brings to the district’s music program. The Madrigals performed for the board members and those in attendance at the meeting.

During each monthly regular board meeting for the 2021-22 school year, department directors will present an update to the board on the work happening in their department and share the progress of their objectives and strategies listed in the district’s Pathway to Premier Strategic Plan. For the October meeting, the department on the agenda was the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department.

CTE Director Amy Vance explained the levels of student CTE participation and then shared data for CTE District “Completers” for the 2020-21 school year. Montgomery ISD currently offers 16 complete programs of studies. Students in Montgomery ISD first select their endorsement path, then their career cluster and finally select their program of study and course selection. The career clusters include Agriculture, Architecture & Construction, Technology & Communications, Business, Marketing & Finance, Education & Training, Health Science, Hospitality, Human Services, Manufacturing, STEM and Law & Public Service. Vance also shared the findings and recommendations of a third-party external review of the district’s CTE programs. The report, which can be found on the district’s website in the “Transparency” tab, can be read here.

The CTE department has a department goal in place to increase CTE student enrollment and is adding seven certification opportunities this year. District leadership is evaluating current program offerings to determine which align with district goals and to identify areas of need. District leaders are also working to evaluate the growth of the CTW program and how that will fit into possible bond needs for updating CTE facilities. The CTE department has been a large part of the discussion at bond planning meetings as Montgomery ISD makes plans to grow CTE program offerings.

The Board of Trustees also took action to approve a new service provider for the district’s copy and printing services. The new contract with Funtion4 will provide more flexibility for teachers and district staff in creating copies, as well as a cost savings to the district. New equipment will be installed over the winter break and Function4 will provide training to all district employees.

Trustees also approved a contract with Gibson Consulting to complete an external evaluation of the district’s Specialized Learning Department. The firm will evaluate staffing, procedures and effectiveness and make recommendations to ensure best practices are in place to serve the students that benefit from our special education programs.

To wrap up the meeting, district administration provided an update on the district’s process for developing the district’s academic calendar for the 2022-2023 school year. The calendar development process begins with the assistance of the District Advisory Committee (DAC) and the district is offering the opportunity for staff, parent and secondary students to respond to a districtwide survey, indicating their preferred characteristics of an annual academic calendar. District administration will develop draft calendars based on input received from the DAC and through the districtwide survey. DAC members will then solicit feedback on the calendar options from their respective departments and campuses. District administration will present a final draft calendar to the Board of Trustees for approval during the February 2022 board meeting.

Montgomery ISD Board Meeting Video and Recap: Sept. 21, 2021

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees met for their monthly board meeting on Tuesday, September 21. You can watch the meeting in its entirety and read the recap below.

This school year, during each regularly scheduled board meeting, Montgomery ISD district departments will give an update on their department improvement plan and share their progress of their objectives and strategies that are in line with the district’s Pathway to Premier Strategic Plan. At the September meeting, the Technology Department, under the leadership of Director Amanda Davis-Summerville, was the first to present to the board.  September 21 is also National IT Professional’s Day. The Technology Department was highlighted and recognized for the role they play in our district.

The video below was shown during the meeting and the technology team was praised for the work they have done to enhance the district’s technological capabilities.

During the meeting, Montgomery ISD’s Benefits and Employee Relations Coordinator Teresa Tipton presented the district’s new Culture of Respect Initiative: Be ONE Team Montgomery. 

The Be ONE Team Montgomery initiative aligns with district goal four: Human Capital. To lead this work, a task force committee has been formed consisting of 3-4 members of each department and campus to assure that all employee groups will be well represented. This committee will define what “culture of respect” means for Montgomery ISD. 

The Culture of Respect task force committee will hold campus meetings to complete a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, giving all MISD employees the opportunity to be a part of this initiative. The information collected at these meetings, will identify areas of strength and growth as it relates to our district workplace culture, helping the committee create our district’s first Culture of Respect Policy and Procedures Handbook. 

The expectation will be set for all Montgomery ISD employees to feel respected and appreciated in their role in our district, and procedures will be put in place to give all employees a safe way to share any concerns without fear of retribution. Montgomery ISD wants to recruit and retain the best employees and this initiative will build our district culture to one that provides security and focuses on the amazing work our employees do, and the way they are made to feel while doing it. 

You can watch a video about the Be ONE Team Montgomery initiative below.

The Montgomery ISD Communications department also gave an update this evening, sharing that third-party district-wide surveys were sent to all district employees, parents and secondary students earlier today. The district has partnered with the national education firm K-12 Insight to conduct the survey and ensure confidentiality of responses in an effort to gather the most authentic and genuine data from its staff and district families. 

Many of the results from the survey will serve as baseline data for several of the key performance indicators in tracking the district’s Pathway to Premier strategic plan progress. In order to know what we are doing well and have an understanding of areas in which we can grow, it was a priority to the district to give our students, families and staff a safe way to report their honest feedback. A second survey to track the district’s progress will be issued in May 2022.

The Communications department has also implemented the district’s first two-way communication platform for students, parents, staff and community members to reach district-level employees with questions, suggestions, comments and concerns. The Let’s Talk platform went live on Tuesday, September 7 with the roll-out of the district’s new website and has already answered over 70 customers with an average approval rating of 9.7 out of a possible 10. We hope that this communication platform creates an atmosphere of accessibility and gives our district community one place to get their questions answered and share their insights freely. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted schools across Texas and the nation, each school district and campus in the state would receive a letter rating (A-F) from the state of Texas under the state’s accountability system. For the 2020-2021 school year, all districts were not-rated due to a declared state of disaster. Montgomery ISD Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Duane McFadden reported Montgomery ISD’s STAAR results to the board, explaining and charting what is called the “COVID Slide,” which is defined as the anticipated drop in STAAR scores from the 2018-2019 (pre-COVID) school year to the “post-COVID” scores in the 2020-2021 school year. McFadden presented data showing that MISD students outperformed the state in every category for the 2020-2021 school year and experienced minimal decreases in academic achievement when compared to the rest of the state. Montgomery ISD scored within 3 points of our district’s own pre-COVID scores in 15 of the 22 categories, and even surpassed our pre-COVID scores in 2 categories. 

Finally, the MISD Board of Trustees authorized compensation for district staff for work missed due to the districtwide closure on September 14 because of Hurricane Nicholas. Students will not need to make up the school day.

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.”

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.

Montgomery ISD trustees approve district strategic plan

Montgomery ISD trustees approved a new district strategic plan during their regular monthly board meeting for June. 

The strategic plan, named the “Pathway to Premier”, is the product of a six-month-long districtwide effort to collaborate with all district stakeholders and identify existing district strengths and areas for improvement. The strategic plan focuses on the Board of Trustees’ five district goals and contains measurable key performance indicators in targeted areas. The plan also lists initiatives and strategies the district will use to meet or exceed targets outlined in the key performance indicators. 

The board-approved district goals are: 1) Academic Achievement; 2) School Safety; 3) Finance and Operations; 4: Human Capital; and 5) Communication and Customer Service.

Dr. Heath Morrison, who is entering his second year as the superintendent of Montgomery ISD, emphasized the district’s intense focus on developing the strategic plan through collaboration with the community. 

“My time of entry as superintendent of Montgomery ISD was spent doing a significant amount listening and learning,” Morrison said. “Conversations with hundreds of district stakeholders identified many strengths we have as a district, but also opportunities to improve. It was a priority for us to ensure the development of the strategic plan authentically represented all voices in our community. Hundreds of voices were involved in this process.”

To develop the strategic plan, the district formed a large task force consisting of five committees, each focused on one of the goals. The task force committees were comprised of district leadership, principals, teachers, counselors, parents, students and community members. The task force committees spent several months examining district functions and developing key performance indicators and district initiatives and strategies to be included in the final strategic plan. The district also issued a communitywide survey and held three town hall meetings during the strategic plan development process to gather public input. 

“As a Board, our vision for the district is clear: We want Montgomery ISD to be the Premier School District in the state of Texas,” Board President Matt Fuller said. “We are excited about the direction of our district with this strategic plan as our guiding document. I would like to thank all staff, parents and community members who participated in this process.”

In total, the strategic plan consists of 66 key performance indicators addressing various areas within the five district goals. The task forces identified 121 initiatives and strategies during the development of the plan. Increasing and enhancing Career and Technical Education opportunities is a district initiative under district goal one.

“This strategic plan is comprehensive, starting with ensuring strong academic programs are in place for our youngest learners all the way up to our students ready to take on college, career or military opportunities,” Trustee Shawn Denison said. “I’m especially excited about the increased focus on expanding CTE options and programs for our secondary students.”

Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, the Board of Trustees will receive monthly updates from task force leaders and department directors regarding the district’s progress in various areas of the strategic plan.

“With the strategic plan, our board and community will have a clear understanding of where the district is excelling and where there are growth opportunities,” Trustee Linda Porten said. “This not only brings about greater transparency into district functions, but it also provides guidance on academic, operational and financial aspects of district decision-making.”

Morrison emphasized the district’s desire for the strategic plan to reflect the values, wishes, and desires of the entire Montgomery community. 

“Our Board of Trustees and community expect consistent greatness from Montgomery ISD, and our students deserve nothing less.” Morrison said. “We are a very good school district. However, we cannot let ‘good’ be the enemy of ‘great’. This strategic plan truly serves as our pathway to being the premier school district in Texas.”

The Pathway to Premier can be read here.