At the regular Houston School Board meeting on January 8, the board decided to proceed with the purchase of a new projector for the high school gym. Superintendent Mary Morem informed the board that it was not feasible to repair the current ancient projector. The new projector is an upgrade and has future capabilities; it will have a laser lens and no bulbs to replace. The consensus of the board was that the all inclusive quote of $12,812 was reasonable and the replacement was necessary. The possibility of a donation toward the purchase from the local gambling fund was mentioned. Since Morem wanted to have the new projector in place before graduation, the board voted to go ahead. If any donations come in, they will gratefully accept them.
Superintendent Morem brought up the elementary security cameras; she told the board that the cameras there were analog cameras with only 18 days capacity. Morem felt that the replacement of the cameras had been overlooked when the high school cameras were replaced; she presented a bid of $15,065 for replacement cameras to the board. Morem will take the matter to the facilities committee and discuss it with elementary principal Rick Bartz. Both Gene Lundak and Tom Stilin called this a safety issue and felt it should be taken care of. No action was taken by the board at this time.
The board approved policy 491 which stipulates that all employees of the school must either be vaccinated for COVID or submit to weekly testing and wear masks at school. This was contingent upon the Supreme Court decision upholding the mandatory policy. If it is not upheld, the policy will no longer be in effect.
The meeting was the first meeting of the school year; as a result positions and memberships on committees had to be decided. Tom Stilin was once again chosen board chair with Josh Norlien chosen vice chair. Mark Swenson is the new clerk; Gene Lundak is the treasurer.
The official depository remains Bremer Bank; the official paper is the Caledonia Argus. District legal council will remain Maggie Waller from Kennedy & Graven.
The board meeting calendar was changed after the board decided to move to once monthly meetings to be held on the first Thursday of the month. If necessary, additional study sessions may be held on the third Thursday of the month. Morem cautioned the board that she already felt they would need to use that work session in January. Mimi Carlson shared her concern that the board needed to make sure to hold study sessions when necessary; she does not want to get any surprises at the monthly meetings.
The board raised board pay from $40 to $50 for up to two assigned board meetings a day and for half -day meetings. All-day meetings remain at $75 per day.
The meeting was closed to discuss possible amounts to offer for two buildings that are available for the school to purchase. St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the ABLE building are both for sale. According to Supt. Morem, the district buildings are at full capacity; several teachers share classrooms at the high school. Morem informed the board that the two available buildings are very different from each other and would each be used by the district differently. Morem reminded the board that they have a lease levy authority to purchase buildings. The board planned to end the board meeting following the closed session.
The next regular Houston School Board meeting will be Thursday, February 3, at 6 p.m. in the high school media center and can be accessed online by a link on the school website. The public is welcome to attend. The possible study session will potentially be on Thursday, January 21, at 6 p.m. in the high school media center.