Houston Schools recently conducted a survey of students, parents, staff, and community members to gather input on the best use for the former ABLE building and St. Mary’s Catholic Church. A total of 208 people responded.
St. Mary’s was seen as a location for extracurricular activities such as dance, one act play, musical rehearsals, lego robotics, and STEM activity space. Other uses suggested were extra space for Hurricane Watch in the summer, banquets, community education classes, and possibly a fitness option. Events that would be occurring at the church would probably be shared with the public via a Google calendar.
Uses for the ABLE building suggested included Summit on the north side of the building, MNVA offices on the south side, and outside service sources such as vision, occupational, and physical therapy in the front offices area. Future uses could potentially be daycare and transforming the garage area into robotics space.
The survey pointed out additional needs/wants of the district including a weight room, additional gym space, and an auditorium. According to Morem, the uses of the buildings’ spaces will be evolving; no board vote was requested at this time. MNVA, however, will need to be moved before next school year.
Brok Johnson of Commercial Solar Specialists attended the meeting virtually to present Solar for Schools to the board. Johnson broke down the finances of a possible solar project for both the elementary and high school. Houston Schools are eligible to apply for a $223,349 grant (which would cover 95% of the project costs) for two 39.9 KW AC solar collectors.The district would be responsible for the remaining $11,755 which would be recovered within the first two years of operation.
The collectors would be installed on the rooftops; any necessary analysis of roof structure would be completed before the projects.
Insurance and maintenance have been factored in to the total cost.
A site analysis and initial application has been already completed; the full grant application is due May 31. No work would be done until the grant is received.
Electricity generated by the collectors will be used directly at the schools; there will not be any excess to be sold. Johnson pointed out that the project would also have educational benefits for the school, particularly in math, science, and trades. The board directed Morem to continue with the final application.
MNVA Costa Rica trip approved
MNVA math instructor Andrew Borne presented a request to organize a trip to Costa Rica for MNVA students; the ten-day trip led by EF Educational Tours would take place in June 2023. Students from the brick and mortar Houston school as well as any adult employee may attend. The cost of the trip will be $3,305 for students and $3,800 for parents and adults; a down payment of $95 will be required at the time of registration. To help with the expense, scholarships and payment plans are available.
The board approved the request; more information on the trip will be available to students soon.
High School Principal Michael Mangan presented Hurricane Heroes Ethan Kinstler and Sydney Torgerson. Mangan recognized Ethan and Sydney for their “exemplary job of serving their fellow students, school, and community.” He noted their involvement in sports, extracurricular activities, and church and community involvement.
Ethan credited his boss at Stinson’s Meats as well as his parents for helping him become the person he is. Sydney pointed to her faith in God, her parents, and coaches as instrumental to her development as a Hurricane Hero.
In other business the school board:
• Chose Rushford State Bank as their new official depository;
• Gave their blessing to the purchase of stop arm cameras for the school’s buses, providing the grant is approved for them;
• Approved a resolution for a lease-purchase agreement for $473,000 for the purchase of the ABLE building; payments will be made until February 2033 with an interest rate of 2.63%;
• Chose to wait on any decisions on football or baseball field lighting upgrades until another company could look at it; insurance will cover the poles and fixtures lost in the December storm;
• Approved the November 27–December 3, 2022, junior/senior Washington D.C. trip;
• Expressed their appreciation of retiring teachers, Greta Goetting, Jaclyn Thimmesch, and Steven Munderloh;
• Closed the public meeting for a negotiations strategy session.
The next Houston School Board meeting will be May 5 in the high school media center; the public is welcome to attend.