The Houston School Board met for its regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 2, 2017, in the library of Houston Public High School. In attendance were Superintendent Abraham and Board members Norlien, Bonner, Stillin, Evenson and Carlson. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the board approved the agenda for the meeting and opened the meeting to public comment. Gene Lundak, who at the last meeting was chosen to replace resigning Board member Joe Krage, expressed his gratitude at being selected by the board. The board then unanimously approved the consent agenda, which included two contracts for teachers and six hiring memos for coaches.
The board then moved on to discussion items, looking over its Winter Weather Policy for School Board Meetings. Abraham reminded the board that, in the case of weather closing the school on the same day as a board meeting, the board will meet during the next week, at the same time and at the same place, to make up the meeting. Board member Bonner asked for clarification regarding the rules about when the board can and cannot meet, and the board agreed to look it over for the next calendar year. Next, the board looked at a resolution brought by Houston County Auditor Char Meiners regarding the combining of polling places prior to elections. Abraham said that, due to new legislation, Meiners and the Minnesota School Board Association is requesting the resolution get passed on a yearly basis. The resolution needs to be kept in place, Abraham explained, to avoid a situation where Houston Schools would have to pay and staff 13 separate polling places in the event of a school district election. After discussion, the board decided to choose the Houston Fire Department as the decided polling place. The board decided to wait for the January meeting to pass the resolution as part of the “housecleaning” duties at the start of each year.
The board then considered Old Business, looking at the Sports Cooperative Agreement. Abraham reported changes to the agreement from last meeting, including a waiving of the user fee and a flat fee of $1,670 for two-school co-op sports. If three schools split the cost, the fee has been adjusted to $1,113. Each of these fees are to cover overhead and operating costs for sports like wrestling and soccer. Abraham also noted that she received a thank you from Spring Grove’s superintendent, who also stands to see reduced costs as a result of these new negotiations. The current agreement will be for three years between Houston and Caledonia for wrestling, and Houston, Caledonia and Spring Grove for soccer. New sports can be added to the agreement if students express an interest, but sports cannot be deleted from the agreement. Board member Norlien asked if there has been a cost analysis comparable to what Houston was already paying in-house for sports, and both Abraham and Stillin replied that the numbers were fair.
Board member Norlien made the motion to approve the agreement: “the motion will be made to go ahead with the co-op, and then try to retro it and then investigate the participants of soccer and make sure it’s right with them.” The board approved the motion unanimously and moved on to New Business, starting with the health and safety contract with Steve Musser. Abraham explained that Musser will be unable to honor the terms of their contract but Pat Weir, who had been in charge of the school’s asbestos abatement, has offered to honor the contract at the same value and stipulations. For Abraham to sign the agreement, the board needs to approve a cancellation of the contract with Musser and a new contract with Weir. The board approved the plan unanimously, and introduced two policies for first reading regarding the Superintendent and Policy Implementation.
The board then heard announcements, including the Houston Elementary Veterans Day program, and the district’s Truth in Taxation Meeting. The Veterans Day program begins at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, November 10. Abraham described the event as an “extravaganza,” saying that “the students and Houston Elementary really put a lot of time and thought into this, and it’s something that is really embraced by the school.” The Truth in Taxation meeting for the school district is scheduled for Thursday, December 7, 2017, at 7 p.m. The Houston School Board will meet for its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 16, 2017, in the library of Houston Public High School.