Americorps extends helping hands to city schools

HUDSON–Americorps in Hudson City Schools, a PTA proposal for school enrichment and updates on issues including the Bridge alternate high school, dominated the Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting Monday, November 25. All seven Board members attended.

The project director for the Hudson Promise Corps program of Americorps, Joan Hunt, gave a presentation about Americorps and what it plans to do with it three-year assignment in Hudson. Part of the Hudson program will take place in schools and with school children. For youths in grades K-12, Ms. Hunt said, Americorps seeks to:

Tutor and mentor

Play “an active role” in classrooms and playgrounds, though she assured listeners that the purpose of the project is not to replace teachers and teacher aids but provide an “extra set of hands”

To “create a culture of success and high expectation.”

Ms. Hunt said that Americorps is successfully doing something similar in Harlem.

Sharese Johnson, a Hudson High School graduate, class of 2010, and now one of Americorps’ volunteer extra hands in a Hudson classroom was present. She recounted that as a child she moved to Hudson from Queens, and her first schooling after the move took place in Mrs. Huemer’s 3rd grade class, then in Greenport School. Now as an Americorps volunteer, she is again with Mrs. Huemer’s 3rd grade, now in the Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School, and says she loves it. Meanwhile, Johnson is finishing up at Columbia-Greene Community College, preparing to transfer to a college that gives four-year degrees, where she plans to study psychology.

On a different matter district Superintendent Maria Suttmeier reported on a PTA proposal that will encourage parents with special knowledge or skills to come to classrooms and share their topic of expertise with the children. The teacher would participate in the presentation and discussion. Current ideas for this program focus on the Primary School. The PTA has designed a proposal with suggested topics, including coins and geology.

The Bridge alternate high school program, originally scheduled to start in September and delayed at the last minute by legal technicalities, remains under discussion. Ms. Suttmeier explained that different sub-departments within the state Education Department do not always communicate with each other and that recently somebody from a sub-department that supports the Bridge program called her and asked what was happening about the program. The next day Ms. Suttmeier met with a state assistant education commissioner. Because it appears state law permits the Bridge to start in January, Ms. Suttmeier said she was “cautiously optimistic.”

School Business Executive Robert D. Yusko, Jr., expressed doubt whether state financial aid for the District would “keep up with inflation.” He said that the district has already cut back on programs for several years and he expressed special concern about pensions and health insurance premiums, saying that the district has “a huge number of retirees and active employees who don’t contribute to our health plan.”

Mr. Yusko also reported getting a letter from the state concerning its Fiscal Stress Monitoring of schools. The monitoring system scores schools on features such as “cash as a percent of monthly expenses.” According to the system, a score of over 44.9 is “stressed.” Hudson’s score: 43.3.

Also at the meeting the board:

Heard Ms. Suttmeier report that the Art Department has students in all grades working on art projects expressing their vision of Destination Graduation.

Heard board President Kelly Frank announce she is “very impressed” by what she has read about the content of two new courses—“Civics,” for all 7th graders; and “Survey of Engineering,” an elective open to 11th and 12th graders

Presented awards to student athletes. These included cross-country star Ali Bartolotta and scholar athlete members of the Girls’ Tennis Team. The Tennis Team qualified for the state Public High School Athletic Association, Inc.’s Scholar Athlete Award by having valuable sports team members meet academic standards. In this case, the Tennis Team “achieved a composite grade of 92.414.”

Heard Mr. Yusko report that the intended buyer of Greenport School has submitted a new proposal for review.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held Monday, December 9 at 7 p.m., at the Hudson High School library. Two days later, December 11, at 6 p.m., the board will hold a special open meeting in the John L. Edwards Primary School cafeteria about the school budget.




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