The Houston School Board met for its regular meeting in the library of Houston Public High School at 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 18, 2017. In attendance were Superintendent Abraham and Board members Norlien, Wilson, Stillin, Carlson, and Evenson. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the board voted to approve the evening’s agenda and opened the meeting to public comment. Adam Florin, a Houston citizen, spoke to the board about the pride he had in the district and, given the political climate of the time he wanted to sit in on the process and observe. The board thanked him for his comments and approved the evening’s consent items, which included the October 5 meeting minutes, payment of bills, one contract, on decreased contract agreement, three hiring memos, and one resignation.
The board then moved on to discussion items. Earlier in the evening the board had held a facilities committee meeting that discussed district signage. Superintendent Abraham detailed the proposed sign designs and noted that the designer, after attending a facilities meeting, determined that changes needed to be made to the size and readability to the proposed signs. Craig Stanislawski of Wild Exhibit LLC, the designer chosen by the district, is planning to redesign the signs to best fit the school’s different architectures and unique needs. Abraham said the designer referred to the school buildings as “classy” and wanted to make sure the signs matched. The new drawings, Abraham reported, should be ready for the Nobember 16 school board meeting.
The board then discussed a possible garage addition to be built by a spring construction class to be used for both van storage and for possible storage for school departments and clubs. The board then looked at a cooperative agreement with the Caledonia Area School District for the boys and girls soccer program and for wrestling. Houston had previously partnered with Caledonia for gymnastics, but due to lack of interest there were no Houston students currently on that team. Board Chair Stillin and Superintendent Abraham had met with Caledonia on October 17, and Stillin explained that Caledonia was open to changing the agreement, but “once you’re locked into a sport, you still got to pay.” Caledonia, Stillin continued, is asking for $1,670 per sport, plus a cost for the sport prorated by the amount of students participating. Board member Carlson asked if there had been a hard estimate put forth regarding the prorating, but the district had not received any yet.
Stillin summarized: “The gist of it is, if it costs $20,000 to do a sport, and we have one kid and they have 19, we pay $1,000, plus the user fee, plus $1,670. So for one child to do a sport in Caledonia, it would be $2,770 for one child to go up there to play soccer.”
Abraham then told the board that her office would be compiling information per sport and per student for Houston for an update on Friday to give the district numbers for comparison. Board member Carlson noted that signing the three year agreement on for all three sports will cost between $10,000 – $12,000. The board debated which sports to bring on for the agreement, with Abraham noting that seven of the 20 wrestlers in Caledonia are from Houston, and Stillin saying that soccer numbers have gone up. The board will meet with Caledonia again on November 1, and Stillin asked all board members to look over the information to be provided by Abraham and give their input.
Next, the board moved on to select a replacement board member for Joe Krage, who had been forced to resign due to a redrawn district line. The board agreed that there was not a bad choice among the five applicants, and decided to select the candidate who had scored the highest. The board unanimously selected Gene Lundak for the position, and Abraham took time to thank all of the candidates for their interest in the district. The selection will be published in the local newspaper, and any voting member within the district have 30 days to raise objections through a petition of no confidence. The petition must be signed by 68 valid district voters and submitted by 4:30 p.m. on November 17.
The board also approved their support of a U.S. Bank grant for the city, along with five policies on second reading. Additionally, the board voted unanimously to allow Board Chair Stillin to fill in as a substitute bus driver for the district. The Houston School Board will meet for its next regular meeting on Thursday, November 2, 2017, at 6 p.m. in the library of Houston Public High School.