The Houston School Board met for its regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 5, 2017, in the library of Houston Public High School. In attendance were Superintendent Abraham and Board members Norlien, Carlson, Bonner, Wilson and Evenson. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the board approved the agenda for the evening and opened the meeting to public comment, of which there was none. The board then moved on to consent items, which included one new contract, three increased contracts, and four hiring memos. The consent items were passed unanimously, and the board moved to discussion items.
Superintendent Abraham presented the board with an Assurance of Compliance, stating that all necessary documents are up to date and in the school offices. Abraham then detailed a grant proposal brought by Houston city officials that the school could submit on behalf of the city park. The grant would include handicap-accessible upgrades to the park, which Abraham noted “our students could benefit from.” The city also told Abraham that they would have a document removing any financial or legal responsibility from the school if the grant was applied for. Board member Bonner asked if it would be possible for this situation to work in the opposite way to benefit the school in the future, and floated the idea for a “gentleman’s agreement” to that effect. Abraham noted that the grant may not be eligible for the district, as is tied to certain income factors, but if possible the grant will show up on the next regular meeting agenda October 18.
Next, the board discussed old business, setting the date for the World’s Best Workforce public hearing as November 2, 2017, at 7p.m. as part of the regular meeting. The board then approved an update to the Long-Term Facility Maintenance Expenditure Plan after a request for clarification from the Minnesota Department of Education. The board then interviewed five candidates to replace Joe Krage on the board: Steve Scheu, Tony Schultz, Arlin (Pete) Peterson, Gene Lundak, and Kevin Lindh. The information gathered will be used at the October 18 when the board will decide on a replacement, and the public can contact board members with questions in the time leading up to the October 18 meeting.
The board interviewed Scheu and Schultz, and found itself ahead of schedule. While it waited for the next board applicant, Abraham presented an invitation to the district to join the Rochester Area Math Science Partnership (RAMSP), a regional partnership that works to prepare students for and encourage STEM-focused careers. Abraham noted that La Crescent and Lanesboro have already agreed to join, and Board member Carlson expressed interest in joining. Board members Norlien and Evenson asked questions regarding what the district received for its joining fee, and Abraham read from the list that included mobile science labs, collaborative resources and community partnerships. The board asked to gauge interest among the students, in the faculty and with other districts before approving Houston’s participation. The board then interviewed Peterson, Lundak and Lindh for the open board position; video archives of each of the interviews can be found at the HPS 294 YouTube page.
The board then returned to the agenda, approving the board’s third quarter pay. The board then gave five policies a first reading, including policies regarding weapons and the searching of student lockers, desks, personal possessions and person. Abraham noted that some of the changes came as a result of issues at other school districts that resulted in expulsions and lawsuits. Following the first readings, Abraham announced that her mentor through the National Certification Program is flying in from California to see Houston, and offered to schedule meetings for the board members. The board then discussed the construction of new signs at the district buildings, and Abraham offered to contact the signmakers for additional information.
The Houston Public School Board will meet for its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 18, in the library of Houston Public High School.