The Houston School Board met at 6 p.m. on August 17 in the library of Houston Public High School for its regular meeting. In attendance were Superintendent Abraham and board members Norlien, Booner, Stillin, Wilson, Carlson and Evenson. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the board approved the night’s agenda and a resolution for a closed meeting to discuss negotiation strategy. The board then opened the meeting for public comment, of which there was none, and moved on to the evening’s consent items. Board member Bonner raised procedural questions regarding the hiring memos of district coaches, and Abraham replied that due to oversight the returning coaches were not included in the minutes. Abraham concluded by saying that all procedures had been followed according to the handbook, and the consent items were approved.
The board had one item on the agenda for discussion: the yearly evaluation of Superintendent Krin Abraham. Board Chair Stillin said that the board will have evaluation information for the 2016-2017 school year for the next meeting. Board member Bonner expressed an interest in the evaluation process, and Stillin replied that they will evaluate the superintendent similarly to previous years while also looking to identify unique and new items for the previous school year and years going forward. The board then discussed old business, setting the district’s Truth in Taxation meeting for December 7, 2017, at 7 p.m. Next, the board approved five policies upon second reading: Superintendent Selection, Student Promotion, Instructional Curriculum, Development of Parents and Family Engagement Policies for Title I, and Graduation Requirements.
Board member Bonner raised questions about the Student Promotion policy, and Superintendent Abraham described the difference between student promotion and retention on both academic and social or emotional levels. “Any time you’re talking about promoting or retaining,” Abraham said, “a lot of times that social or emotional piece really outweighs the academic or intellectual piece.” Abraham continued that “especially if you got a kid that can do more, so intellectually they’re ahead, however if you bump them ahead sometimes that has more of a damaging effect emotionally and socially. So we need to make sure that those decisions are made looking at the whole child.”
The board discussed two items as new business regarding the resignation of board member Joe Krage, who no longer resides in the district. The house had, at one point, resided within the district, and Abraham mentioned that the district is looking into finding a way to redraw district lines before the candidate filing date for November 2018, but until those lines are redrawn Krage cannot serve on the board. Board member Bonner raised a question as to whether this as the board acting on behalf of Krage or if Krage had spoken to the board first, and Stillin replied that Krage had approached the board about petitioning for redistricting.
Stilin then moved on to the appointment process for Krage’s replacement. Abraham gave a quick breakdown regarding time limits and notifications regarding a special election, saying that the school is within the window for the appointment of a new board member instead of an election. Abraham continued that the replacement must be named publicly before the appointment can be made, and after being named must wait 30 days to allow for public comment before they can be appointed to the board. A replacement named at the next meeting will be able to assume a role on the board for the first meeting in November. After deliberation, the board chose to allow for applications to be submitted to find a replacement member. Superintendent Abraham will create a School Board Member job description and draw up possible interview questions for interested applicants.
The board then heard announcements, including the Back to School In-service on August 28 and 29, and a school board self-evaluation session at 6:30 p.m. on September 7. The board then adjourned to a closed meeting. The Houston Public School Board will meet again Thursday, September 7 at 6 p.m. in the library of Houston High School.