Abitabile resigns from Hudson school board

HUDSON–School Board member Patricia Abitabile unexpectedly submitted her resignation at this week’s board meeting.

Ms. Abitabile, who just began her second term last spring, submitted her resignation, effective June 30. Her term runs through June 2014. At the board’s meeting Monday, May 10, she attributed the decision to an illness in her family.

The resignation was not officially accepted by the board because board member Peter Meyer voted against it, two board members were absent and the board is already a member short. A special election, costing $7,000, is one option to replace Ms. Abitabile, but the board could bypass the expense by appointing someone to fill her seat. It is too late for her seat to be placed on next week’s regular ballot.

Incumbent Mary Daly, Justin Cukerstein, Carrie Haddad, Peter Merante Sr. and Peter A. Rice Jr. are running for two board positions.

Starting at noon May 18, Hudson City School District residents will vote on the school’s proposed budget, and two new school board members, and a proposition that would authorize the district to spend $6.1 million for roof replacement and repairs on district buildings.

Superintendent John Howe described the budget situation as “a bleak picture at the state and local level.” The district faced a $3.8 million budget gap caused by an expected cut of that amount in state aid plus a rise in expenses compared to the current school year. The board has offered a balanced budget by cutting $208,946 in spending, achieved largely by proposing the termination of 50 teaching and staff positions combined with a 3.85% tax levy increase to $17,538,876. The board also applied $500,000 from the reserve fund to the budget proposal.

“These are challenging difficult times. Our goal was to protect the quality of education of kids, while keeping the taxpayer and community in mind,” said the superintendent.

Class size will go up under the plan, with some high school classes having 30 or more students. Electives and AP courses that don’t see an enrollment of at least 10 students may not be scheduled. Modified gym for junior high students was cut, and the Alternative Learning Program was moved from the campus of the vacant Greenport School to the high school.

A demonstration by the Hudson FIRST Robotics team proved that the group has made progress in its third year in the regional robotics competition, finishing 37th out of 57. In spite of technical difficulties their robot turned on a dime, went up and down a speed bump, elevated itself on stilts and chinned itself with a hook before wheeling down the hallway and back to the tech room expertly guided by its student handlers.

High School biology teacher Jim McDarby reported that his Environthon team worked hard to beat Chatham this year and in the process won the whole county and will go on to the statewide level of the competition June 2-3.

Team member Christie Hilliard said the team started out studying in the six areas of environmental science once a week, moved to twice a week, and ramped up practice time as the competition approached. Their hard work paid off.

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