The Houston School Board met for its regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 16, 2017, in the library of Houston Public High School. In attendance were Superintendent Abraham, Board Chair Stillin and Board members Bonner, Wilson, Carlson, Norlien, and Evenson. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the board approved the evening’s agenda and approved a resolution to go into closed session, both unanimously. The board then opened the meeting to public comment, of which there was none. Next, the board unanimously approved the consent agenda, which included four contracts and one resignation.
The board then moved on to discussion items, looking first at the issue of guided study halls in the middle school. Angela Specketer spoke to the board regarding the program, which had been brought into the district this year, where select students would have an additional hour to focus on math or reading studies during the school day. Specketer noted that the program has completed student assessments and is now determining which students need the extra guidance. Study hall is currently set up as an “opt-in” class in a student’s schedule, filling the one elective schedule offered per semester. The program is working to identify which students will need to take the guided study hall elective class and which will not.
Specketer also noted that the school’s new ALEKS Math intervention has been “fantastic,” and may free up the elective class for some students who have shown enough improvement with math. The ALEKS system, Specketer said, has been working so well that teachers have been asking to use it as opposed to other systems, due to ALEKS being better aligned to state standards. The board also discussed its committees functioning more effectively, with Superintendent Abraham presenting input gathering processes. Stillin asked for a “job description” for each of the committees, and Bonner mentioned that purpose statements are usually drawn up for newly created committees, but not necessarily for the already standing ones. The board agreed to work on developing stated goals and purpose statements for all standing committees; Stillin offered to work with Superintendent Abraham to develop a way forward for the next meeting.
The board then moved on to old business, unanimously approving two policies on second reading regarding the superintendent and policy implementation, respectively. The board announced several important events, including the truth in taxation public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 7. The board will also swear in its newest member, Gene Lundak, at the December 7 meeting. The MSBA Leadership Conference on January 11 and 12, 2018, and a legislator/education breakfast forum on February 10. Board member Evenson reported from the district Facilities Committee, noting that the district is working with the city of Houston to get space approved for the new garage construction project for the district. The committee also discussed paving a district parking lot, and possible repaving of outdoor tennis and basketball courts. The board then entered into a closed meeting to discuss the performance evaluation of Superintendent Abraham and a negotiation strategy. The Houston School Board will meet for its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 7, 2017, in the library of Houston Public High School.