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Houston School Board looks at 'World's Best Workforce'

By Angie Rodenburg

Fri, Jan 24th, 2014
Posted in All Education

The Houston School Board held a meeting on January 21. At the meeting, Superintendent Rick gave an overview of the district strategic plan to support teaching and learning that is aligned with new legislation’s “World’s Best Workforce” initiative.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the district’s strategic plan must include six parts. The first parts needed are clearly defined district and school site goals and benchmarks for instruction and student achievement for all student subgroups.

Secondly, a process for assessing and evaluating each student’s progress toward meeting state and local academic standards and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of instruction in pursuit of student and school success and curriculum affecting students’ progress and growth toward career and college readiness and leading to the world’s best workforce.

Third, a system to periodically review and evaluate the effectiveness of all instruction and curriculum, taking into account strategies and best practices, student outcomes, school principal evaluations and teacher evaluations.

Fourth, strategies for improving instruction, curriculum, and student achievement.

Fifth, they need education effectiveness practices that integrate high-quality instruction, rigorous curriculum, technology, and a collaborative professional culture that develops and supports teacher quality, performance, and effectiveness.

Lastly, an annual budget must be made for continuing to implement the district plan.

Superintendent Rick said that the board needs to look at where the district is spending money and that it should be directed to these aims set forth by the Minnesota Department of Education. An advisory team will be made up of the Board, community members, and parents to develop Houston’s plan. “This will reinforce local buy-in of the program and local support for the school district,” added Superintendent Rick. The report must be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education by October 1, 2014.

At the meeting, Justin Treptow also updated the Board on the Minnesota Virtual Academy. He talked briefly about the online classes that some Caledonia students will be participating with Houston students. He also talked to the board about the 38 fifth graders who are taking an online Spanish class. He said that it has been a smooth transition, though there have been some technical hiccups along the way. However those problems have been or are being resolved. “Overall the program is going very well,” said Treptow.

The board also discussed the staff and community survey that they will be developing to help aid in the search for a new superintendent. There was discussion on whether they should decide beforehand if the board will be looking for a full-time or part-time superintendent. The board looked to Interim Superintendent Rick for his opinion on the matter. Rick told the Board that he was happy at 0.8; however, if they’re looking for someone to stay in the position long-term they might want to consider having the position be full-time. The discussion ended with the plan for each board member to meet with Superintendent Rick during the course of the next two weeks, as to better gauge the workload of the superintendent position and better understand the job description.

During the meeting, the board approved a resolution directing the administration to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions. “The purpose is part of the first steps in preparing next year’s budget. You (the board) are authorizing and directing the administration to begin preparing the budget and make necessary recommendations for either discontinuance or continuance,” said Superintendent Rick.

School board member Michaeleen Bonner wanted clarification on the subject saying, “It sounds like it is requiring a reduction and I don’t know if the financial condition of our district dictates we must reduce expenditures immediately.” Superintendent Rick and other board members clarified that reductions would only occur if the financial condition dictated it.

Superintendent Rick closed the meeting acknowledging the work that the paraprofessionals do at the schools and thanking them for their contributions to the schools and the students. The next school board meeting is scheduled for February 3 in the Houston High School Library at 6 p.m.

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