Members of the Houston board of education last Tuesday learned that construction of a new gymnasium on campus is nearly complete.

As part of that, members finalized the center court Tiger artwork, heard that staining of the floor will start soon and that the remaining artwork will soon follow.

Dr. Allen Moss reported that sidewalk work, grass seeding and a few final touches have been completed by Gentry Construction Co. Inc., the project manager for the 1,500-seat facility.

In other matters, members:

•Set the annual levy for the district. It remains unchanged at $3.55 from the previous year.

•Heard David Rust, maintenance director, request purchase of a side-by-side UTV to more efficiently operate on campus.

•Increased substitute pay to $100 daily to be more competitive with other districts. Retirees will receive $110.

•Agreed that the district’s policies already in place give administrators and teachers clear directives on instruction, including the current buzz in the country on Critical Race Theory. The district is unaware of any discussion on the topic occurring in a classroom. Efforts to put a policy in place on transgender issues by board member Darren Ice died due to a lack of second and the district will follow policies already in place.

“There seems to be some misunderstanding regarding the discussions about CRT (and related topics) and transgender policy. CRT is not in the Missouri Learning Standards, it is not in our curriculum, nor does the board or administration have any intention of changing that. We know it is a hot topic right now politically, we will be watching it closely, but the consensus of the board is that the policies in place now (such as Board Policy INB) are sufficient to allow the administration to monitor and direct that,” said Moss.  “Regarding a transgender policy there is no intent to change procedures we have been following all along. Those procedures mirror some of the policies out there already.  Some schools choose to adopt a separate policy, others do not. The discussion is on whether or not a policy needs to be in place. I would encourage everyone to remember that the school board makes a conscious effort to reflect the values of our community. I would also add if anyone has a question regarding curriculum or instruction please reach out your child’s teacher, the curriculum director and/or the building principal.”

•Agreed to hold a public hearing on financing for the possible acquisition of the Piney River Technical Center on Spruce Street to further efforts to expand technical education. This fall, two programs — health occupations and welding — will start there.

•Approved an assistant track coach to work with the program’s head coach, Boulder McKinney.

•Heard Andy Wells, a Houston resident, vow a petition drive on the critical race matter. He originally spoke in June to the board.

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