Hudson school board retains its winter break

HUDSON – With work on its budget proposal completed at least until the public hearing scheduled for Monday, May 9 at 7 p.m. in the High School cafeteria, the school board turned its attention this week to two options for next school year’s calendar.

One of the options presented to the board called for eliminating the February 20-24, week-long break in favor of a long Presidents’ Day weekend. But board President Emil Meister recalled that the break was instituted in the 1970s to save money on heating fuel, a purpose that remains relevant. The board retained the break.

In advance of the public hearing, printed copies of the proposed school budget for 2011-12 will be available Friday.

Assistant Superintendent Maria Suttmeier described the school’s April Pride Academy, an enrichment program to help the school improve individual students’ academic outcomes required by the school’s corrective action status as a School in Need of Improvement. Of the 90 students whose test scores indicated they might benefit most from the program, 61 registered to attend and about 40 attended. For another program, letters went out to 100 students, with 25 registering and 16 attending.

Ms. Suttmeier said another group, the Hudson School Leadership Team, will survey students to see what changes might make them more interested in participating more fully both academically and socially.

She praised district resident Mary Udell for an idea Mrs. Udell had to give parents booklets that list summer recreational programs in the area. Mr. Udell will research and produce the booklets.

Superintendent Jack Howe reported on school attendance of both students and teachers, and board member Peter Meyer asked if low attendance resulted in lower state funding. Mr. Howe said he would look into the matter.

Board member Mary Daly received praise for her work heading the Dollars for Scholars program, which this year presented 18 scholarships to graduating seniors.

The Booster Club that re-formed last year to support a sports program for junior high students in what are called modified sports raised $4,600 by selling $20 tickets. The club gave away half of the take in a raffle conducted at the school board meeting. Soon the club plans to have a chicken barbeque fundraiser, said the group’s leader parent Cathy Bartolotta.

Lisa Dolan said that the 3rd Annual Hudson Children’s Book Festival May 7 will give away 2,000 books to children. The festival, sponsored by Investments for Youth and the school district, also receives support from the Parent Teachers Organization, Elks Lodge, Columbia Greene Credit Union, Vasilow’s, The Hudson Business Coalition, and Wataah, the water company, among others. Ms. Dolan praised last year’s volunteers and said this year’s event still needs volunteers. Ms. Dolan and Assistant Superintendent Suttmeier, who co-direct the event, will be on the WAMC FM radio morning show The Roundtable with Joe Donahue on May 3 at 9:45 a.m. to promote the event.

During the public comment part of the meeting Vincent Wallace asked about the $4.5-million the district pays annually in debt service. District Treasurer and Business Manager Dan Barrett said that 90% to 95% is “aidable,” meaning the state reimburses the district. But Mr. Barrett said he would check the details.

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