HUDSON–School District officials announced major administrative changes at both Hudson High School and the Bridge Alternate Transition Program at the Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting Monday, July 28.
Bobby LaCasse was presented as the new associate principal for Hudson High School. The high school had been without an official associate principal for over a year, since Antonio Abitabile was first named acting principal, then principal. Mr. LaCasse, at the meeting, described himself as “Hudson born and raised. Class of 1994.” And he has spent most of the last 20 years at the Hudson City School District. At the time he received the offer to become associate principal, he was both dean of students and head football coach at the high school. He had been high school coach for 12 years and dean for two years. Before becoming dean, he taught social studies at the high school for about 10 years. Earlier, he taught social studies to sixth graders.
When asked for his goals as associate principal, Mr. LaCasse said, “to help the district move forward. We’ve made progress toward Destination Graduation. To work to continue the upward trend.”
Meanwhile, District Superintendent Maria Suttmeier announced the selection of Greg Pasos as principal at the Bridge Alternate Transition Program and the reassignment of Thomas Gavin, who will address Hudson High School’s dropout rate.
The Bridge, formally the Columbia-Greene Partnership Academy, is a special program for 16 and 17-year-olds identified as likely to benefit from an alternate path to high school graduation. Last spring it served about 45 students from the Hudson and Catskill school districts. Classes are held in the red brick building at the corner of Warren and 4th streets in Hudson, which previously housed the Register-Star newspaper.
The Bridge began operating in February, with Mr. Gavin as its principal and teachers from the Berkshire Union Free School District. But Ms. Suttmeier announced this week that Bruce Potter, superintendent of the Berkshire District, had called her about the results of a review of the Bridge conducted by the state Department of Education. State officials determined that the Bridge violated a state regulation requiring school principals to be employees of the district running the school.
Ms. Suttmeier and Mr. Potter have called the Bridge a partnership of three districts: Hudson, Catskill, and Berkshire Union. But Education Department officials determined that the district running the Bridge is Berkshire Union and the principal must be a Berkshire Union employee. And Mr. Gavin’s official employer is the Hudson district.
Ms. Suttmeier noted that with all the reviewing and evaluating of the Bridge program that the state has been doing for over a year, it had plenty of time to identify and raise this issue before now.
Nevertheless, according to Superintendent Suttmeier, Mr. Gavin “was asked whether he was interested in becoming a direct employee of” Berkshire Union, and he declined. Therefore, Berkshire Union “was forced to hire someone else” to be Bridge principal. It selected Greg Pasos, till then principal of Berkshire Union Free School.
On its website www.berkshirefarm.org, the Berkshire Union Free School District, the special district in Canaan, says it “serves males, 12 to 18 years of age who are classified as Emotionally Disturbed, who are not successful in their community schools, or are classified through the Committee on Special Education (CSE).”
Meanwhile, Mr. Gavin—who was principal of Hudson High School—will take an administrative position with the HCSD. His duties will include studying high school dropout rates and following dropouts, with the hope of “recapturing” at least some of them. His expected retirement, Ms. Suttmeier indicated, is September 2015.
Also at the meeting this week:
•Ms. Suttmeier reported positive results for Primary School pupils from the on-going Fountas and Pinell evaluation. According to the evaluation, compared with a year ago the percentage of students who read at or above their grade’s target at the end of the year rose from 72% to 73% for second graders, 38% to 59% for first graders, and 36% to 50% for kindergarteners
•Board President Kelly Frank noted that the state wants school districts to replace lever voting machines with optical scanners, but the new machines will cost between $100,000 to $150,000. Therefore, she announced that Questar is working with the district to draft a letter to the state legislature requesting permission to continue using lever voting machines for two years
•Superintendent Suttmeier announced the possibility of working with the Albany Medical Center “to provide medical and mental health” services to the district’s students.
The next School Board meeting will take place Monday, August 11, at 7 pm at the Junior High School library.