Voter guide: Montgomery ISD board of trustees Place 6

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This article has been updated to reflect Matt Fuller is currently assistant dean.

Matt Fuller

Matt Fuller

Hometown: Sealy, TX
Experience: small-business owner, farmer, assistant dean for the College of Education at Sam Houston State University, current director of the Doctoral Program in Higher Education Leadership
979-255-9971 • fuller4misd@gmail.com
Top priorities: examining district finances and spending

What are your fiscal priorities for MISD?
Fuller: Roughly $3.7 million [of MISD’s budget deficit]is devoted to our recapture payment. To compensate for this, district leadership cut services our students deserve, asking teachers to take on new responsibilities with few resources. With a fresh perspective and input from staff, we can identify areas in the operations budget that can be reduced. I believe in responsible spending and serving our students in big ways. We must also seek partnerships and grants. I have expertise in these areas.

What legislative priorities do you feel are the most important locally for Montgomery ISD?
Fuller: Our highest legislative priority must be a review of school funding in Texas. This should occur in conjunction with discussions about property tax reform. Many parents have begun to question the value of testing and we must remain aware of these developments. College access and workforce development must also be a priority. Finally, school safety is a top concern. I have advised many policy makers in these areas and will advocate for our schools.

What is your stance on school safety and mental health?
Fuller: In our community, our children’s safety is everyone’s responsibility. We must prepare for all hazards including natural or industrial disasters, shootings, criminal events or the influence of drug and alcohol use in our schools and community. Supporting highly trained, well-equipped police officers on each campus is key. We must also ensure students and families have ready access to mental health services. I will ensure our staff have the resources needed to keep our children safe.

What do you envision for the future of MISD?
Fuller: MISD’s future is bright. Our teachers, students and families make this a district everyone wants to attend. We must ensure our staff have tools and resources they need to continue this expectation into the future. Through responsible spending, we can restore lost services. We will continue to support law enforcement, teachers and staff in ensuring our children are learning in the safest, drug-free environments. The board must advocate for this kind of future for our students.

Larry Hereford

Hometown: did not respond by press time
Experience: did not respond by press time
Top priorities: did not respond by press time

Kent Pope

Kent Pope

Hometown: Spring
Experience: former Cypress MUD board member; former volunteer firefighter at Cy-Fair Station 7; former coach, crew and board member of Cypress Fairfield Sports Association
832-563-5351 • popekent@sbcglobal.net
Top priorities: quality education, student opportunity and fiscal responsibility

What are your fiscal priorities for MISD?
Pope: The legislators are working on several different proposals to help support public education for the 2019-2020 school year. The complexity is finalizing a budget for MISD before you know exactly what you can expect from the state. Last year’s $6.9 million proposed shortfall will come in around $400,000 because of sound adjustments and difficult decisions made by MISD. With 80 percent of the budget going to employee cost and the desire to continue to attract the best employees, the board and district will have to explore options to maximize employee effectiveness within current budget restraints and look for additional opportunities to cut budget costs that do not hinder us from serving our student needs.

What legislative priorities do you feel are the most important locally for Montgomery ISD?
Pope: The two funding ideas in the House and the Senate will be very important to MISD. There are many variations being worked on that could increase the amount the district gets per student, decrease the taxes each of us pays, and there is a Senate version with a salary increase for educators.

What is your stance on school safety and mental health?
Pope: Safe schools and supporting each student is at the cornerstone of the education system in MISD. I will be open to new ideas on how to continue to improve these focus areas. For our 6-12 graders, I was pleased to see the readily available dozen or so phone numbers to call or text for students needing to report safety concerns including bullying, threats, along with connecting with
a trained adult who can assist with suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm. Our district has definitely made strides in school safety such as the high school’s building vestibules at its main entrances to ensure that all guests are checked in safely.

What do you envision for the future of MISD?
Pope: MISD is one of the best districts in the state and my goal would be to help support the administration and its employees to continue this positive trend for years to come. All organizations have areas in which to improve, and I think MISD is no different. The current school board and the trustees from previous years have done an outstanding job of setting MISD up for great success and to flourish with the growing MISD student population.

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Jules Rogers
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Jules Rogers has been covering community journalism and urban trade news since 2014. She moved to Houston in June 2018 to become an editor with Community Impact Newspaper after four years of reporting for various newspapers affiliated with the Portland Tribune in Oregon, including two years at the Portland Business Tribune. Before that, Jules spent time reporting for the Grants Pass Daily Courier in Southern Oregon. Her favorite beats to cover are business, economic development and urban planning.
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