"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
Online Edition
Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Volume ∞ Issue ∞
 

Houston School Board debates levy scenarios


By Angie Rodenburg

Fri, Dec 20th, 2013
Posted in All Education

The Houston School Board held a meeting on December 17. At the meeting Houston High School Principal Todd Lundberg presented information on the school’s new Robotics program that is set to launch in January of 2014. Principal Lundberg told the board that hiring a coach would be imperative to the success of the program and asked the board’s permission to make a posting for the position. The initial $6,000 startup cost of the program will be covered by grants; however, the school was asked to cover the cost of the program’s travel needs, extra equipment that may be needed, and the salary of the coach which, when added together, would roughly cost $2,000.

Principal Lundberg said that the program’s cost for future needs will be provided through fundraising and corporate sponsorships. He also suggested the money for the program be provided by the Gifted & Talented budget. The board decided to discuss supporting the program further in the January meeting; however, due to time constraints the board approved the posting for a Robotics coach. Some of the board members hesitated in allowing the posting to be made before there was official board approval, but were outvoted. In the Houston School Board majority rules.

A point of debate in the evening’s meeting was in regard to the levy. Interim Superintendent Rick presented his recommendation that the board choose “scenario 4” of the spreadsheet of scenarios made by Business Manager Gwen Rostad. Scenario 4 levies 50 percent of the Location Equity Revenue and also under levies in three categories. The Finance Committee also recommended scenario 4. Kevin Kelleher disagreed with the recommendations, feeling the need to give taxpayers a break. Kelleher favored a scenario that reduced the levy while still receiving some government aid for the school. Those opposed to that idea were concerned that the school would struggle financially should they choose to under levy. The rationale behind levying 50 percent of the Location Equity Revenue and under levying in three categories would be to provide the revenue needed to improve the district’s instructional program, integrate technology into the district curriculum and improvement plan, possibly address district safety and security needs, among many other things. Many of the school board members agreed with board member Mimi Carlson when she said, “We don’t want to spend the money just to spend it.”

She went on to recommend that a lot of the revenue be saved in case the school was ever in a tight spot. Board member Michealeen Bonner said, “I think the taxpayers deserve a plan for the revenue.” Kevin Kelleher shared that he wanted to see how the money spent on improvements is actually helping academic achievement in a more clear and tangible way. Kelleher added that he doesn’t believe throwing money at things is necessarily going to improve student achievement.

The board was fairly divided on the issue; however, Gwen Rostad reminded the board that if no decision was made by the end of the year that the levy would go through “as is” meaning they would be levying to the max, something none of the board members wanted to do. A motion was made to approve “scenario 4” and was passed by a 4 to 3 vote. Those voting “no” were Kevin Kelleher, Mimi Carlson, and Ron Evenson. Scenario 4 provided for the most aid with the least amount of tax, making it the most appealing of the possibilities to the majority of the board.

After the levy vote, Superintendent Rick went on to discuss a meeting that representatives of Houston Public Schools had with the Caledonia Public School administration. Those in attendance from Houston were Superintendent Rick, Principal Lundberg, and Principal Treptow. Those in attendance from Caledonia were Superintendent Barton and Principal DeMorett. At the meeting they discussed the potential for sharing classes beginning second semester of the 2013-14 school year and the 2014-15 school year. They discussed classes that had low enrollment and high interest for both districts. They left the meeting with an action plan and plan to continue to explore common areas of interest for their next meeting on January 27.

The next school board meeting will be held on January 7, 2014 at 5:30 P.M. in the Houston High School library.

No Comments Yet. Be the first to comment!







Your comment submission is also an acknowledgement that this information may be reprinted in other formats such as the newspaper.