Q&A: Meet the candidates for Montgomery ISD board of trustees Position 2

Montgomery ISD board of trustees Position 2 candidates Shawn Denison and Adam Simmons answered questions about their goals. (Community Impact staff)
Montgomery ISD board of trustees Position 2 candidates Shawn Denison and Adam Simmons answered questions about their goals. (Community Impact staff)

Montgomery ISD board of trustees Position 2 candidates Shawn Denison and Adam Simmons answered questions about their goals. (Community Impact staff)



HOUSTON



Montgomery ISD board of trustees Position 2







*Indicates incumbent







Shawn Denison




Occupation: Police officer


Experience: Three decades of public service






Why are you the most qualified for this position?



SD: As a public servant, I have lived my life by a code of ethics and in service to all members of our community. I am a 27-year veteran of law enforcement and a lieutenant with Harris County Constable Precinct 1. My expertise in law enforcement will serve MISD well as we make a number of important decisions about safety and security in our schools. I offer a new, objective perspective on MISD’s needs.



The board of trustees has pledged to make MISD the highest paid staff compared to surrounding districts. Are you supportive of this goal and if so, how will you help the district achieve it?



SD: I support this goal. We must review the spending practices and administrative salaries to ensure we are prioritizing staff salaries as a top priority. Under my opponent’s leadership, we have not made this [or] technology and professional development a priority. It has been years since teachers received raises or travel support. It is time for a fresh perspective. I will work with the administration to clarify the importance of these goals and our financial practices.



Do you see areas of the budget the district can reduce spending? If so, where and how much?



SD: After a few months, Superintendent Heath Morrison has balanced our budget. But we must continue being frugal to fix the years of runaway spending and lack of accountability supported by my opponent. Administrative salaries should only increase after meeting major goals. There is unnecessary spending in under-used programs, events and parties and some facility projects. Our utilities should also be reviewed. I do not support cutting widely used academic programs, technology or employee benefits any further.









Adam Simmons*




Occupation: Mortgage banker


Experience: MISD trustee, Montgomery Central Appraisal District director






Why are you the most qualified for this position?



AS: Being the incumbent, I am uniquely aware of the challenges facing MISD and what the board and administration are doing to confront these challenges. There are many goals that have been set and plans currently being worked on, and we as a board need to continue this good work. Having experience on the board is paramount, especially as a new superintendent begins his term in our district.



The board of trustees has pledged to make MISD the highest paid staff compared to surrounding districts. Are you supportive of this goal and if so, how will you help the district achieve it?



AS: I am 100% supportive of this goal. The first difficult step was achieving a balanced budget, which was done this past month. The cuts get harder and deeper from this point to make a sizable impact. We must find ways to continue to cut the budget while keeping the emphasis on the classroom. It will not be easy. The board will work with MISD administration to continue to find ways to achieve this goal.



Do you see areas of the budget the district can reduce spending? If so, where and how much?



AS: Yes, the district can reduce spending further. Before we do that, we must make sure the money we currently have is being allocated properly to achieve the desired district efficiencies. This is a current board priority that is being run concurrently with the balancing of the budget. With COVID-19's impact on education budgets across the state not known at this point, the board must be sure to continue to focus on ways to cut spending, as mentioned before, all while keeping the emphasis on the classroom. Ideally, we need to accomplish cuts/savings of around another $1 million or more to give an adequate first raise to staff members.


By Eva Vigh
Eva Vigh joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 as a reporter for Spring and Klein. Prior to this position, she covered upstream oil and gas news for a drilling contractors' association.
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2019 as a reporter for The Woodlands area and began working as Austin's City Hall reporter in April 2021.