By Jordan Gerard

Editor, The Caledonia Argus

Houston School Board wrapped up 2021 with a vote to approve its 2022 levy, at its regular meeting on Thursday, Dec. 16. 

The levy amount totaled $1,228,932.80, or .61%. The school district has not changed the percentage amount in several years.

The board also heard the results of its annual audit by Clifton Larson Allen. Manager Luke Greden said they issued a clean audit and found no compliance issues, no material weaknesses and no Minnesota legal compliance issues. He complimented director of finance Gwen Rostad and thanked her for her help. 

The district also received a UGG single audit because they reached a threshold of $750,000 due to Covid-19 relief funds. That audit was also clean. 

The district has $1.615 million in its unassigned general fund balance, due to revenue increases. That was increased  about $300,000 from last year. Greden said it was a healthy spot for the district to be in. 

In the restricted general fund balance, the district has $993,924. Staff development funds increased by about $210,000 in that fund.

Houston’s operating capital fund balance is $467,282. This fund has specific purposes, such as technology. 

The Long-Term Facilities Maintenance fund totaled $443,467 in the black. Last year, the fund ended at $7,984 in the red due to the science room upgrades. The fund is based on the district’s 10-year plan. 

About 90.67% of Houston’s funding comes from the state, with an additional 3.35% coming from property taxes. 

Greden told board members most of the general fund expenditures goes toward the students. Board chair Tom Stilin said the board’s focus has always been on the kids. The board did not take action on the audit.

Superintendent goal setting

Superintendent Mary Morem presented the 2021-22 goals. District goals include continuing to grow student offerings and school capacity at Houston High School and Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA). 

She would like to see the high school offer two Post Secondary Education Options (PSEO) courses next year, and partner with more schools. 

Morem would also like to increase communication with community engagement. This could include meeting with community organizations to gather input and share and publishing monthly fliers or putting ads in the paper. 

Other news

Morem reported the school did receive some damage in the Dec. 15 storm. A pole fell down near the baseball and softball fields. 

The board approved its Jan. 6 organizational meeting at 6 p.m.

They approved contracts for the principal, professional, supervisory-confidential positions, bus drivers and grounds/mechanic positions.

Morem and the board thanked Andy Sweet and Todd Lundberg for their years of service to the district. 

Board member Gene Lundak thanked the school for hosting Hollidazzle activities. There were about 200 people in attendance. 

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Houston School Board will be Jan. 6, at 6 p.m. That meeting should decide if the board will continue two board meetings a month or go to one meeting per month.

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