The New Caney ISD board named Matt Calvert the district’s new superintendent April 6.

Calvert has served the district as interim superintendent since November after former Superintendent Kenn Franklin resigned amid a financial investigation. Franklin pleaded guilty in April to a charge of aggregate theft by a public servant.

Previously, Calvert served as NCISD’s deputy superintendent and executive director of finance. He began his career in education in 2004 as a science teacher and coach, later serving as an elementary assistant principal, elementary principal and assistant superintendent.

Calvert and his wife, Molly, have lived in the school district since 2015. They have two children, Canon and Maggie, who attend NCISD schools.This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What are your main goals as superintendent?

Goal No. 1 is to provide a high-achieving, student-centered program that produces graduates who are prepared to be contributing members of our community. We want to be an academically successful district. That’s what we’re here to do.

... [The] second [goal] is to provide a safe environment for kids and teachers to thrive in. ... As a parent of two kids in the district, I want to drop my kids off in the morning, know that they’re safe all day, and when my wife picks them up in the afternoon, I get them back the way I dropped them off. Safety is extremely important.

Then, protecting our resources. [We] take it very seriously that we are spending taxpayer dollars. I want [taxpayers] to feel like they are getting a great return on their investment. It’s not just a tax bill. It’s an investment in the future of our community and kids. ... Talking about community, [I want to give] them opportunities to be a part of the school system. ... We have great things going on inside our buildings [that] I want people to be able to see.

What are the district’s biggest challenges?

One [challenge] that we don’t foresee going away anytime soon is the growth of the district from commercial and residential [development]. All of those things bring families to New Caney ISD, and ... I have to have a place to put all these kids. We have certain standards that we want to see [in our buildings] to create the environment we want for our teachers and kids, so funding and planning for those is a challenge.

... Then, how do we catch kids back up from the last two years? We are strong believers that kids learn best in our buildings in front of our teachers face to face, and that obviously didn’t happen for the last 18 months. We recognize there are going to be learning gaps, and there are going to be challenges, so we’re working on a plan to not only address the challenges and shortcomings of the last 18 months, but also to keep moving forward.

... We have to go into it being flexible. ... It’s not going to get fixed on the first day of school, so we have to come into it with some grace and patience.

Do you see the need for a future bond?

Based on all the demographic data, growth isn’t going away anytime soon. So, yes, there will be an additional need for future bonds for facilities. ... Right now, we’re averaging probably 2%-3% growth, and the projections go anywhere from 3%-5%. More students are coming, which means more schools, which means future bond referendums. When and how much? That’s yet to be determined, but we’re definitely planning for continued growth.

How will you ensure financial transparency and accountability?

Once the [Kenn Franklin] news story came out, and we heard what, at that point in time, allegedly had happened, I took the immediate step of changing our processes from a reimbursement standpoint. I changed that process and procedure to where if you get anything back from a trip, you have to have proof of attendance of going to it.

Another step we took was the [NCISD board of trustees] engaging a third-party audit firm to come in and just basically do a check of things. ... That firm came in and said, as we reported in a board meeting, what [Franklin] did was an isolated incident. There was no other collaboration or cooperation with any other district employees, so essentially, we got a clean bill of financial health.