The Houston School Board met for its regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 7, 2017, in the library of Houston Public High School. In attendance were Superintendent Abraham and board members Bonner, Stillin, Evenson, Lundak, Wilson and Carlson. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the board approved the meeting’s agenda and a resolution for a closed meeting regarding negotiation strategy. The board then opened the meeting to public comment, of which there was none. The board next approved its consent agenda, which included two contracts for substitutes at Houston Elementary. Following that, the board moved on to discussion items, looking first at scheduling an annual organizational meeting.
MSBA asked the district to have the meeting as soon as practical after the new year, and Abraham suggested January 4. The board will make a final decision on the date at its December 21 meeting. Abraham then presented the board committee charters in draft form, which will be approved at the organizational meeting when it is set. The board debated some of the wording in the charters regarding committee authority, and the administration agreed to make necessary changes before the organizational meeting. Comments and suggestions regarding potential changes will be sent to Abraham, who will forward them to the respective committees before the meeting and finalization.
The board then moved on to old business, where they discussed the performance evaluation for Superintendent Krin Abraham. Abraham scored an overall 3.53 out of 4 rating from the board, and Bonner requested the goal statements be included in the evaluation, or at least a statement explaining the rating. Abraham agreed with having the goals printed with the evaluation, and asked who would be tasked with writing any additional statements about the rating. The board agreed to add a short statement about the rating that was recorded in the minutes. Following that, the board welcomed its newest member, Gene Lundak, with Abraham administering the Oath of Office. The board then looked over eight policies for a first reading, involving agendas, meetings, rules of order, officers and operation of the school board. Bonner requesting that the board look into combining the offices of board clerk and treasurer at the organizational meeting, and suggested placing the approval of the meeting agenda on the consent agenda moving forward.
As it was not yet seven o’clock, the board did not commence the Truth in Taxation and moved on to announcements. Abraham announced school concerts for the elementary school grades K-4 on December 14, grades 5-6 band and choir on December 21, and the high school band and choir on December 18. Abraham also extended a thank you to Kiel Koehler for new vinyl letters on the door, eliminating the need for paper signs taped to a door or window. Koehler gained the die cutter for the letters through a grant. The board then discussed an item for future meetings regarding a potential resolution sent from MSBA asking state and/or federal legislators to close a what Abraham called a “cross-subsidy gap” for special education. The board asked for resolutions for both state and federal representatives to be presented at the December 21 meeting.
The board then heard committee updates, debating the use of maroon and gold or black and white for planned new signage, as the designer reported red did not work well with the colors of existing school buildings. The board also talked ramps, canopies and stairs on school properties, looking to improve safety moving into 2018. The board then discussed the proposed new garage construction, which will need to be drawn up on the ground before any potential variance can be brought before the city’s Planning Commission in January. After a short recess, the meeting officially adjourned at 7 p.m. to convene the Truth in Taxation meeting. Superintendent Abraham presented the entire taxation process to the board, which can be viewed on the HPS 294 YouTube page, and the board then debated the merits and issues regarding tax increases, decreases, and keeping the level the same. The board also heard and answered tax questions from the public in attendance, and thanked members of the public for coming. The board then went into closed meeting for negotiation strategy. The Houston School Board will meet for its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. on December 21 in the library of Houston Public High School.