At their regular April 6 board meeting, the Houston School Board approved adding a ½ student contact day back into the academic calendar for May 12. Superintendent Mary Morem asked for the ½ day because of the many snow days that had occurred this year. The school still had not fallen below the required student days, but she felt the students and staff needed the additional time. Originally, the full day had been slated as a teacher in-service day.
When asked why the Tuesday after Easter had not been chosen instead, Morem responded that a national speaker had already been booked for that day. The teacher will be speaking on the work of SPED teachers and paraprofessionals in classrooms.
An academic calendar detail for next school year was also discussed. The proposed 2:30 student dismissal time on Wednesdays had been tabled until the April meeting to get citizen input. Morem asked the board’s student representatives how they felt about the early out. Not surprisingly, the girls both were in favor of it.
The board members had received different input from parents. Mimi Carlson informed the board that the parents she’d talked to wanted consistent days and wanted their children in school as much as possible. Richard Erdmann pointed out that daycare becomes an issue for working parents with younger children. Mark Swenson agreed with the need to keep the schedule consistent and keep students in school. Ultimately, the board opted to make no motions; this removed the proposed early outs from the calendar.
Superintendent Morem recognized the April Hurricane Hero, Sydney Torgerson. Torgerson was one of four statewide recipients of the Minnesota State Scholarships and is on the Knowledge Bowl team heading to state competition soon. In addition, Torgerson has received many accolades for her efforts on the basketball team.
According to Morem, what she most appreciates about Sydney is her constant smile. She shared how much she’s enjoyed getting to know Sydney through her years at Houston.
Reporting on a facilities meeting held prior to the board meeting, Arlin Peterson shared that the school is short a van; currently a van is being rented, but Morem is looking to purchase a van.
New blinds at the elementary school are needed; wooden bleachers at the baseball field have reached their end and need replacing. Flooring on the stairs at the elementary needs replacement; first the current flooring needs to be tested for asbestos before removing. Some carpeting will be replaced in the next year with the plan to gradually replace more.
Some bathrooms need updating; they will be made handicap accessible at the same time. If these updates are done and the upcoming referendum passes, those improvements could be removed from that remodeling plan.
The street pavement in front of the school is in need of repair. The school will check with the city on its replacement schedule.
The solar project has run into a snag. The surveyor has stopped his survey because there is a question of exactly what land the school owns. Apparently, the surveyor felt the school owned less land in one area and more in another. Mimi Carlson mentioned remembering a discussion and solution several years ago regarding the land. Morem will check into the situation.
New dugout construction to replace the damaged ones also has run into a snag. Since the last dugouts were built, the city has adopted a building code. Now it is questionable whether the dugouts can be rebuilt in the same location. A variance has been applied for with the city.
In other business, the board:
• Discussed policies on their first reading; concerns about liability of people using the facilities were addressed by an inclusion regarding that in policy 801 Equal Access to School Facilities; Morem also explained that policy 806 Crisis Management was intentionally vague to prevent giving information to possible intruders, but that the administrators knew the procedures well;
• Accepted donations of $500 from Women of the World for teacher supplies; $500 from the VanGundy family revocable trust for veterans’ flags; $427 from the Houston Athletic Booster Club for varsity boys baseball equipment; $5,000 from anonymous for the music department to be used for something new that they usually do not purchase;
• Were informed that Morem is working with the school’s lawyer to draft a response to the letter sent to the board by HVED after their notification that Houston was leaving HVED.
The next regular Houston School Board meeting will be held May 4 at 6 p.m. in the high school media center. The public is welcome to attend.