Classrooms trump web

HUDSON–The Hudson City School District will run its own summer school program for the first time since 2007 in order to continue offering summer students the option of attending “traditional” classrooms. District Superintendent Maria Suttmeier made the announcement at the Board of Education meeting Monday, May 12.

The main purpose of this summer school program is credit recovery, giving students another chance to pass courses they did not get credit for in the regular school year. Questar III BOCES was running the district’s summer school, but this year, “at the last minute,” Ms. Suttmeier said, Questar III announced that this summer it would provide classes only online.

“We asked Questar if we could do a hybrid,” giving students the choice of taking courses in a “traditional setting” or online, Ms.Suttmeier said, adding that she was told 100% of instructions to Hudson students would be online. The regional BOCES–the initials stand for Board of Cooperative Educational Services– intends to run a pilot program of online only instruction, and Hudson is one of the districts it assigned to that program. So, Ms. Suttmeier said, “we decided to roll summer school back into our school.”

The decision created 18 new summer employment openings in the Hudson City School District. According to the Human Resources Personnel Agenda approved by the board at the May 12 meeting, this summer staff would work mornings from July 7 through August 12, with a staff orientation day July 2. The 18 positions include four math teachers, three English teachers, two social studies teachers, one Earth science teacher, one living environment teacher, one guidance counselor, one nurse, and five teacher aides.

Financing for summer school, according to the Personnel Agenda, would come “via general funds.”

In addition, Ms. Suttmeier said the district might gain from tuition paid by students from other districts selected for the online-only program. Each traditional class will need at least 10 students.

The Hudson summer school will also offer online courses, but they will be in addition to rather than instead of classroom instruction. The online program will have a computer lab with staff to help students, and the district’s online offerings include some subjects not offered in traditional classrooms. Ms. Suttmeier said that one reason for continuing the traditional classroom option is that “not every student has online access at home.”

But board President Kelly Frank said, “We have to move online, because it’s the wave of the future.” Still, she expressed eagerness to compare the number and the success rates of students in online classes with those in classrooms.

The meeting also included what was intended as a public hearing on the proposed 2014-2015 budget, which goes before the voters on May 20. The only audience participation came from board candidate Arthur Cincotti, who asked whether the district was preparing retirement packages to offer teachers.

Business Executive Robert Yusko, Jr. rewplied, “We’re in negotiations.”

Mr. Yusko noted that for the first time in years, the district does not plan to reduce staff; in fact, if voters adopt the budget the district will add staff despite limits on the tax levy. The total proposed 2014-15 spending is $45,268,912. The added staff would include assistant principals for the high school and the junior high-intermediate school jointly.

The school vote is May 20, and in addition to the budget four candidates are vying for three seats on the board. The one with the most votes will start the night of May 20 in a 5-year term. The one with the second most votes take office July 1 also for a 5-year term. The one with the third-most votes will start the night of May 20 for a 1-year term.

Also at the May 12 meeting the board:

Considered the planned new formula for calculating high school grade averages. The new formula, recommended by High School Principal Antonio Abitabile, gives more weight to more challenging courses. “I agree that AP and honors courses are more difficult and should be worth more,” said Ms. Frank, “but I’d like to know where Abitabile got his ideas from”

Heard Ms. Suttmeier announce that eight district students participated in the Special Olympics at Hudson Valley Community College. Together they achieved 11 gold metals and 7 silver metals.

The next Board meeting will be Tuesday, May 20, at the cafeteria of the John L. Edwards Primary School, at 9 p.m. It will start at 9 pm in order to include the announcement of election results and the swearing in of pertinent new board members.

 

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