The Houston School Board officially created a new position at the school at their regular board meeting March 4. In an effort to pare down the superintendent responsibilities, the board will add a new position at the school. According to the job description, this position will take on the following duties: communications, activities director, and scheduling of transportation and building and grounds. The position requires a bachelor’s degree in communications, public relations, marketing or a closely related field as well as three to five years of communication related experience and will be in the professional group with pay in line with the former communication director’s salary.
New high school course offerings were officially approved. The junior high will see a life skills class and a digital citizenship class; the high school added mythology and a speech/drama class for juniors and seniors. Work-based learning, a virtual class through La Crescent HS as a co-op will be offered as well to juniors and seniors. Board member Mimi Carlson enthused, “They sound exciting!”
Superintendent Krin Abraham reported that there wasn’t much news this week. The new allocation of 2021-22 ESSER II and GEER II has not yet been announced. Graduation and prom guidance has not been released. Distance learning is allowed for all schools only as long as the peacetime emergency declaration is in place. At this time there is a lot of legislation in the works to possibly allow schools to continue afterwards with distance learning. Abraham will be meeting with Senator Carla Nelson Friday to discuss and share possible effects of such legislation on schools and funding.
Staff members who are fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine if exposed to COVID according to the new guidelines. Minnesota is ranked first in the nation in supporting students during COVID. Food service, technology, and learning models were considered in the declaration.
Angela Specketer, MNVA principal, shared that at this time 17% of students have responded to this week’s opening of registration for next school year. Of the responses, 96% plan to return to MNVA. Specketer pointed out that the addition of a digital navigator has been a great help in keeping students engaged and present. Five sites across the state have been located to administer MCA tests.
MNVA is considering offering German next year; two students took the national German test and ranked first and third in state thanks to a teacher with knowledge of test prep skills.
High school principal Michael Mangan reported that MoveThis World, a program to encourage social/emotional learning, is part of the daily activities with an emphasis on active listening and working through conflict.
The high school’s Sno-Daze Week and Career Day brought “a little slice of normalcy” to the school according to Abraham. The week brought a talent show, games, and virtual presentations by local employers and colleges.
Targeted services will be offered Tuesdays and Thursdays after school to help failing students beginning next quarter. Summer school will also be offered mornings June 7-18. These are “very strongly suggested” opportunities for struggling students. Academic Assistance/Assignment Intervention is also offered to students with missing assignments. Parents are encouraged to discuss these offerings at the upcoming virtual conferences March 18.
Elementary principal Rick Bartz informed the board that the winter Fastbridge testing has been completed. This test helps identify students who need additional support. MCA testing is scheduled next month. Conferences at the elementary will be March 15-30 via Google meet, Zoom, or phone.
In other business the board:
•Agreed to the postponing of the scheduled New York City trip until July 27-31, 2022;
•Approved a joint school nutrition agreement contract to supply meals to ACHIEVE, an HVED program in Hokah; the meals will be picked up by HVED at the Houston School;
•Decided the school board evaluation process will be done in May.
The next Houston School Board meeting will be March 18 at 6 p.m. in the high school media center and online. Public attendance is welcomed.