At their March 18 meeting, the Houston School Board learned that both prom and graduation will be able to proceed with caution. Prom has “pretty stringent” guidelines; the state has suggested dancing while seated in chairs six feet apart. Prom has been set for May 1, 2021; the After Prom committee has already contracted with a hypnotist for entertainment. Supt. Krin Abraham commented that she has chaperoned many proms, but this one will definitely be unique. Abraham assured the board she would be in contact with students for their input on what possible options they think will work. She noted that the guidance from the state could easily change several times before prom.
Graduation could be held in the gym with a limited audience. With 233 people allowed in the gym, each graduate could have four tickets for family/friends. A small choral group of eight people and a band ensemble of 15 people would also be allowed. A larger graduation could be held outside. The graduates will be asked for their preferences on the two choices.
Abraham informed the board that cases of COVID have been low with the past week at 11.79 for the county and zip code increases at zero. Thanking the community for the low numbers, she still encouraged the board to wait a few weeks before going back to regular school operation and busing. Mimi Carlson agreed, emphasizing the importance of maintaining consistency for the students. If the county numbers remain under ten for several weeks, the school will then consider the change.
A planned Washington, D.C. trip for around 30 students will tentatively take place May 16. The bus will be at 50% capacity; students will visit mainly outdoor venues. Abraham noted that the school would be trying to get a rapid COVID testing procedure so students could be tested on the trip if necessary. If COVID cases have increased or the variant COVID hits the school, the trip may need to be cancelled.
The drama trip to New York City has been officially set for July 27-31, 2022. This year’s graduates will also be allowed to attend. Since Broadway is closed until at least May 30, 2021, at this time there is no information regarding the shows to be attended. Parents are always encouraged to join this trip.
Targeted Services and Summer School
Targeted Services are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. At this time 25% of the high school students qualify for the services. Teachers are reimbursed for this with stipends. Students and parents have been notified if they qualify.
Summer school will be held June 7-18 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. each day. Ninth to twelfth grade students who have failed one or more classes during the 20-21 school year will need to participate in credit recovery during summer school. Both general education and SPED teachers will need to be hired for the program.
Abraham told the board, “English and math classes really got hit in distance learning. We want our students to graduate!” She added that Governor Walz is expecting a lot of schools to do this. “I don’t know of any schools not doing summer school,” she added.
Long-term facility maintenance
The board discussed items for long-term facility maintenance; high on their list is a kitchen project which will probably be done in June 2022. Also under consideration is improving air quality in the 1957 portion of the high school. ESSER money could be used toward this, but will probably not cover the entire cost. Amounts for the ESSER funding still has not been released. Additional expenses would make it necessary to sell bonds. Abraham recommended the board decide in August, plan on selling bonds in January 2022 and begin the work in summer to take advantage of best rates.
A total of $3,350 in donations was accepted for the new high school gym scoreboard with the American Legion giving $2,000; Donald Carlson Estate, $1,050; and Ross Himlie, $300. The Hurricane Foundation will still also be donating. The scoreboard and installation will total $8,600.
The next school board meeting will be April 1, 2021, at 6 p.m. in the high school media center; the public is welcome to attend.