The Houston School Board took a close look at the proposed building referendum at their May 4 meeting. Andy Fields of SiteLogiQ summarized the two questions that are being planned for the referendum.
Question one will ask residents to vote yes or no on a $17.9 million project. Included in this would be safe and secure building access at both the elementary and high school. The media center at the high school would be remodeled for administrative offices with a new media center relocated. The elementary school would get a new maker space. Multipurpose cafeterias in both locations would provide space for small groups during the day including space for online learners to work. These spaces would promote a community environment.
Question two will ask voters to vote yes or no on an additional $11.9 million in projects. This question could only pass if voters passed the first question. This additional project would include an auditorium/theater, and the renovation of the current band room to a weight room/fitness center that would be accessible to the public as well.
Fields shared that if both questions pass there will be an anticipated $100,000 in savings in the projects. With that money, a new art room could be built with the old art room space turned over for CTE use.
Mimi Carlson asked if the tax impact for residents would be recalculated since many homes saw a significant change in their valuation this year. Fields assured Carlson that Baker Tilly will be contacted and will respond directly to Superintendent Morem.
Tom Weber of SiteLogiQ detailed how the company team will put together a full communication plan once the resolution for the referendum is passed by the school board.
Campaign branding will be designed, fact sheets, mailers, postcards and door hangers will be produced. Posts will be created for the school Facebook site as well as a website dedicated to the referendum which will provide a QR code to take viewers directly to a tax impact calculator and a frequently asked questions section. A button will provide the voters the opportunity to ask additional questions.
Short videos will be produced to show viewers the current facility as well as what proposed changes will look like. Additionally, gallery walks and open house tours are a possibility.
Fields and Weber reminded the school board that personal conversations are the biggest influence for the voters and encouraged them to inform the voters about the facts.
The resolution will be officially acted upon at a special meeting May 18. Upon passage of the resolution, the referendum election will be set for August 8. This will give the board 10weeks to communicate with the community.
Scotland trip summer of 2025
Andrew Borne, a teacher at MNVA, appeared virtually to ask the board to give permission to offer an eight-day trip to Scotland in the summer of 2025. The trip will be open to any high schoolers, parent chaperones, and Houston staff — both MNVA and brick and mortar. The estimated cost of the trip is approximately $4,800 each; it will be through Educational Tours, the same company used for the Germany trip. Previously, trips have been offered to France as well; this June a trip to Costa Rica will be taken.
Borne feels the trip will be very enjoyable; it’ll include trips to castles, Glasgow, the West Highlands, Edinburgh, and even Loch Ness.
Fundraising is possible with individual online links similar to GoFundMe sites for each student. Borne asked permission to put up posters at Houston High to advertise the trip. The board okayed the trip and the advertising posters at the school.
In other business the board:
•Recognized Hurricane Heroes senior Sydney Solberg and 10th grader Brayden Robinette, both from MNVA; both participated in Skills USA and won trips to national competition;
•Decided on board representatives for graduation at MNVA on June 3 at the University of Minnesota and Houston High on June 2;
•Approved Local 70 contract language;
•Passed a resolution for combined polling places; the voting site will be the Houston Fire Department;
•Approved the coop agreement for sports; an agreement with Caledonia for wrestling, soccer, and gymnastics, and one with RP for track and cross country;
•Approved the purchase of scoreboards for baseball and softball; since the old ones can no longer be repaired and will be replaced with similar scoreboards, long term facility maintenance will be used for 88% of the expense with the remainder coming from the general budget.
The next Houston School Board meeting will be the special one May 18 at which the resolution for the building referendum will be considered as well as the school’s strategic plan. The next regular meeting will be June 1. Both meetings will be in the media center at 6 p.m.; the public is welcome to attend.