Despite district’s upbeat tone, some parents bolt

HUDSON–City school district officials announced awards for excellence and diligence this week. At the same meeting a parent cited dissatisfaction with the district as the reason for pulling her child out of school

The Board of Education meeting Monday, June 9 also included a proposal to build a drop-off/pick-up loop for the John L. Edwards Primary School behind Carroll Street houses and a curriculum presentation for the Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School.

The meeting began with the intermediate school’s curriculum “workshop” presented by both the school’s faculty and a group of 4th through 6th graders on stage. The presentation by the children included the 12 major “shifts”–six changes English language arts (ELA) , six in math–that, according to EngageNY.org, “the Common Core State Standards ask teachers to make.”

One ELA shift is “know more vocabulary words.” The pupils demonstrated this part by reciting, in turn, new words their grade was learning. Many of these words occur in adult literature and discourse. The pupils also told what books they read for school. Many of these books, though age appropriate, deal with serious subjects.

Later, during the regular part of the board meeting, April Prestipino, district coordinator of school improvement, announced that state Senator Kathleen Marchione had recognized two district faculty members as Teachers of Excellence. The honorees are Jim McDarby, science teacher at the high school, and Scott Vorwald, band teacher at the intermediate school. Mr. Vorwald received special recognition for his effort to get instruments into the hands of all students who want to play them. Mr. McDarby and Mr. Vorwald were two of 25 teachers from the Capital District to whom Sen. Marchione presented the awards June 5.

Immediately after the awards announcement, district Superintendent Maria Suttmeier added that she had received a phone call from Senator Marchione. The superintendent said Sen. Marchione said she wanted to “recognize your hard work, despite your challenges” in serving an urban community with a high number of students from whom English is a second language. As a result, Ms. Suttmeier said, the senator told her she has arranged an additional grant for the school.

“We have to celebrate what’s right about our district,” Ms. Suttmeier told the meeting. “We’re moving in the right direction. It’s important to recognize what’s good. We owe it to our students.”

In contrast, Nina Fine announced from the audience: “I, and other parents, have decided to leave this district. There has been no improvement. We will no longer commit time, money and effort for this district.” Ms. Fine’s son is finishing first grade and attended kindergarten at the John L. Edwards Primary School.

Ms. Fine described her son as “a higher learner” and said she was pulling him out of the district because, “his needs are not being met.” Her child was not allowed either to sit in on higher-grade math classes or to skip a grade.

“The focus of this district is on students with special needs,” said Ms. Fine, who said that because students like her son will graduate from high school anyway, the schools were not paying attention to them. She said she and some other parents had worked for “academic rigor” in the district’s schools but now some of those parents are moving to Germantown or Red Hook; others are sending their children to Hawthorne Valley, she said, and some who are keeping their children in Hudson City Schools are “about defeated.” Ms. Fine has plans for her son to attend a Montessori school in Florida.

She has lived in Hudson since 2006. Before that she lived in New York City and had a weekend home in Hudson. “I love Hudson. I love the community. I love my house in Hudson,” she said, but she said she and her husband decided to go “where the living is good” and they have had a vacation rental every year.

Also at this week’s meeting:

Ms. Suttmeier said the primary school’s current parking, drop off, and pick up configuration puts students at risk, and student safety is a top priority. So the district has been developing Washington Street Extension into a “safer” drop-off/pick-up loop for primary school students. A short dead end street across Harry Howard Avenue from Washington Street ends close to the back of the school. But houses of Carroll Street block access from the dead end to the school’s driveway. Under study is whether turning the dead end street into a student transportation loop is a feasible option

Intermediate school students displayed a boat they built under direction of the Hudson Sloop Club. They plan to launch it in Oakdale Pond, near the school Wednesday, June 18

Jeanine Millar, coach of the Hudson High School Boys’ Tennis Team, announced that nine members of the team qualified as Scholar Athletes by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, etc. The honorees are Ahsan Beshal, Jacob Ebel, Kamrul Mohammed Hassan, Nur Hossain, SM Huq, MD Islam, John Macher, Alejandro Miller-Santos, Mohammed Shmsuddin

Derrick Smart sat as a board member for the first time. Mr. Smart, 48, was elected May 20. He is a patient representative at Columbia Memorial Hospital and a staff member at Red Door Community Residence. His son, who just turned six, is finishing his second year at Columbia Christian Academy in Ghent but next year will transfer to the John L. Edwards School

Joseph Carr, who just ended a term on the board, told his colleagues, “I enjoyed working with you.” Board President Kelly Frank presented him with a certificate of recognition for his service.

The next School Board meeting will be Monday, June 23 at the high school library.

 

 

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