Members of the Houston board of education received an update on the deployment of a U.S. Department of Defense program that will bring healthcare opportunities locally next year.

The Innovative Readiness Training medical mission is tentatively set for June 27-July 10 and will operate from Houston. Ava and Eminence also will be served from the outpost that is expected to bring 79 military personnel to Houston.

Dr. Allen Moss said plans call to use the Houston Storm Shelter for the clinic, and the school district will contribute the use of empty classroom space (for sleeping areas), shower facilities, a storage room for equipment and cafeteria usage for troops during clinic times. Another planning meeting is set for February and another planned for April.

The medical program is a U.S. Department of Defense training opportunity that delivers joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness while simultaneously providing key healthcare services to the community. By utilizing its extensive resources, the military is able to meet the region’s most urgent healthcare needs. Among the services provided are basic medical and wellness exams, vision exams and single lenses glasses and dental exams and extractions. There is no charge. There are no income or residency requirements to receive treatment, and providers will treat patients 3 and older. Patients will be treated on a first-come, first-serve basis. To learn more, visit IRT.defense.gov

In other matters, the board:

•Received an update on COVID-19 in the district and the county health department’s decision not provide further guidance following threats from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

Moss reported positive cases totaled six last Tuesday. Of those, four involve extended leaves due to medical complications. The district earlier had stopped doing quarantines testing and masking and moved to rely on the Texas County Health Department to lead it through the second school year involving the pandemic.

That was before Schmidt — in writing to health departments and school districts — sent letters outlining a Cole County judge’s ruling he said prevents mitigation efforts and raised the prospects of lawsuits if local officials don’t comply with dropping any COVID-19 mandates. Schmidt’s actions won’t directly affect the school district, but it will not receive any information now from the county health department to help fight the virus, Moss said he’d been told.

•Heard from a parent, Dara Archie, related to concerns about what she said were meager food portions in the cafeteria. She also highlighted curriculum that she said was offensive to her biracial children.

•Approved a plan to reimburse the City of Houston for engineering services to relocate a sewer main. The district is studying a major upgrade to its track and the line requires relocation. It also will continue to use the services of grant writer Elaine Campbell as it works to secure a $500,000 grant.

•Will rebid equipment for a bus communications system. Some differences were found in the bids and one was lacking some information.

•Accepted a bid from Joe Harding Sales and Service for a cafeteria cooler. It will replace a unit that was first installed when the building was constructed and is in constant need of repairs. The cost is $30,520 and funds come from reimbursement of meals that has to go toward kitchen equipment. Earlier, the district won a USDA grant that will pay for a freezer. Both will placed next to each other.

The board also held a special closed session Thursday night for personnel matters.

The board’s next meeting is 5:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at the high school library.

School board decisions

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