The Montgomery ISD board of trustees has adopted a legislative platform for the 87th Texas Legislature—a first for the district, officials said.

“Traditionally, Montgomery ISD has not necessarily been a proactive participant in engaging and talking about the needs of our district,” MISD Superintendent Heath Morrison said at a Jan. 19 board meeting.

Texas lawmakers convened at the Capitol in Austin on Jan. 12.

“In any year, the stakes are high for public education,” MISD Director of Communications Justin Marino said.

However, this year, the state faces an estimated $950 million budget shortfall, according to Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

MISD’s legislative platform focuses on school finance reform; assessment and accountability; assistance from the state for COVID-19-related costs; local control and school safety.

On the school finance side, MISD supports maintain current funding levels set in House Bill 3, passed in the 86th Legislature, which provided more money to Texas classrooms, increased teacher compensation and cut local property taxes, among other changes.

“We hope they continue to build on this momentum,” Marino said.

The district expressed support for identifying new state revenue sources to reduce the burden on taxpayers.

The district also supports the Texas Education Agency’s decision to waive A-F accountability ratings for the 2020-21 school year. However, the district favors administering the STAAR test this spring—with flexibility for those students enrolled in virtual instruction—to set a baseline of student progress amid the pandemic.

Other district priorities include crediting pandemic-related costs against a district’s excess revenue, or recapture, obligation to the state; providing school boards greater flexibility to make local decisions around the health and welfare of students and staff; and securing additional funding to support police officers and mental health professionals on campus.

The district will now begin reaching out to elected officials and making trips to the Capitol where appropriate, officials said.