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Houston School Board approves technology plan

By Angie Rodenburg

Fri, Jan 17th, 2014
Posted in All Education

The Houston School Board held its first meeting of the new year on January 14. At the meeting the board made several organizational decisions, including choosing dates for all of the school board meetings in 2014. The meetings normally have a start time of 5:30 p.m. but the board decided to move meeting times back to 6 p.m. to accommodate board members’ schedules and give more time for citizens to make it to the meetings after work. The school board calendar can be found on the Houston Public Schools website.

At the meeting, elections were also made: Tom Stilin was re-elected as Chair, Gary Wilson was named Vice Chair, Ron Evanson was elected Clerk and Mimi Carlson was made Treasurer. Committee appointments were made and board representatives were also named. After all of the organizational decisions were made the school board resumed business as usual.

Krin Abraham presented the district’s technology plan that was created by Scott Gottfried, Jason Ludwigson, Lisa Schutte, and herself. According to Abraham, “Last year Houston Public Schools received over $20,000 in TEA (Telecommunications Equity Access) aid. Houston Public Schools needed to have an approved plan on file with Minnesota Department of Education and SEMNET (Southeast Minnesota Network) to qualify for funding for the current school year. To receive TEA funding, the district needs to be part of a consortium, which for Houston Public Schools is SEMNET.”

Abraham also talked in detail on a few elements of the technology plan, including the the plan to one day have electronic textbooks that can be updated as needed. Abraham gave the example of how their history textbooks name Bill Clinton as the last President and Pluto is still categorized as a planet in science books. The electronic textbooks would serve as a “living document” as it has the ability to be continually updated. This was just one of the many items discussed in the technology plan. The plan was approved by Minnesota Department of Education on December 27, 2013, but needed approval of the plan by the school board. The plan was approved by the school board.

At the meeting, Paul Grupe asked for approval of the high school band and choir spring trip to Kansas City, Mo. Grupe was pleased that the choir was invited this year on the annual band trip. The trip is scheduled for March 20-23, with those days filled a variety of different activities including three performances by the band and choir, touring museums, and visiting Union Station. Approximately 70 kids will be going on the trip thanks to the Music Boosters helping out the students that face financial hardships. The school board approved the trip.

The meeting also held the very familiar discussion of the school board’s search for a new superintendent. The school board revealed their commitment to finding great candidates in their discussion. Tom Stilin commented that finding a superintendent is “one of the most important things we do.” Michaeleen Bonner said she wanted input from a broader base of stakeholders before developing and posting a job description. To do so, she had the idea of creating a survey that community members could take that could help the school board figure out the most important issues to residents and what characteristics they are looking for in a superintendent. The school board loved the idea and plan to go forward with it. The board also decided that they will dedicate the first meeting in February to developing a job description for the position.

The next school board meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 14 in the Houston High School Library at 6:00 p.m.

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