In Hudson district, everybody must get surveyed

HUDSON–Parents of pupils in the Hudson City School District have to complete an online survey by December 3. The survey was announced at this week’s Board of Education meeting, which also saw a report on technology funding from the Smart Schools Bond Act, children’s school-time medication policy, and the status of substitute nurses and teachers.

Coordinator of School Improvement April Prestipino announced at the Monday, November 10 meeting that parents, students in 3rd through 12th grades, and all teachers need to complete a survey by K12 Insight between November 12 and December 3. Most students are to fill out their survey forms at their schools during the school day.

Teachers were to receive their version of the survey by email at noon Wednesday, December 2. Parents were to receive yet their survey forms by email at 5 p.m. the same day. There will also be reminders delivered by “robocalls” and by surface mail. K12 Insight needs the completed survey forms by December 3.

K12 Insight is a privately held company headquartered in Herndon, VA. It’s website, www.k12insight.com, says that its mission is to: “Transform school districts into organizations that grow trust capital by engaging the silent majority of their stakeholders through transparency and collaborative decision-making.” the website says the company was founded in 2002.

In Hudson, K12 Insight will supply and accept surveys only by computer screen, with one exception. The only people in the district who will have the option of completing the survey on paper are Bengali-speaking parents. Paper copies of the parents’ survey in Bengali will be available at a community pre-Thanksgiving event November 19.

Turning to another matter, the board heard from Business Executive Robert Yusko, who said the statewide Smart Schools Act, a ballot measure approved by voters last week authorizing the state to borrow by issuing bonds, will pay for $1,771,000 worth of eligible projects in the Hudson district. “Right now we’re waiting for guidelines” on how and when to apply for this support, he said. “I guess it won’t be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year,” Mr. Yusko added.

The act requires every school district to submit a plan for using the grant money. The plans must be developed with input from teachers, parents and other “stakeholders.” Eligible projects include “instructional hardware,” expanded broadband access, many things related to universal pre-kindergarten–including “brick and mortar construction,” white boards and community programs involving public libraries.

On the topic of student medication, the board heard that recently schools have canceled scheduled field trips because of uncertainty about whether going on the trip had the proper credentials to dispense students’ routine medication and handle medical situations that might arise. Each school building in the district has a Registered Nurse, but the nurses must stay in their assigned buildings.

District Superintendent Maria Suttmeier said at the November 10 meeting that the district is now in the process of updating its policy on medicating students and handling medical emergencies when students are at a school activity away from the school building or when a school nurse is absent.

The only person who authorized to administer medication to students is a registered nurse. But if an RN is not present, a licensed practical nurse with phone access to an RN may administer medication that an RN has set up. In addition, parents may designate in writing an adult not connected with the school to accompany a student on field trips and administer the student’s medication. Furthermore, administrators “can be trained” to dispense some medications. The district is working with attorneys to make sure its policy complies with state law.

Board Member Carrie Otty suggested that the district hire at least one permanent floating RN to substitute for absent building nurses and to accompany field trips. Ms. Suttmeier said this matter has been discussed.

The superintendent said the district’s substitute list currently contains only three or four nurses. She said the district needs a pool of classroom substitutes–especially since many regular teachers are soon slated to attend professional development workshops during school hours.

To attract more high quality substitutes, Ms. Suttmeier advocated increasing their pay, noting that other districts in the county pay their substitutes more. “I would ask the board to consider an increase in substitute teachers’ pay,” she said. “I would say we should raise pay in the vicinity of $15 to $20 a day. I don’t want to put it off until next year.”

At the district’s current pay rates, she wondered whether, after taxes, it would be worth somebody coming from Greene County to substitute in Hudson.

Also at this week’s meeting:

  • Supt. Suttmeier mentioned an upcoming Career Pathways summit November 18 at Questar III, BOCES, to discuss designing programs centered on specific careers such as alternate energy, healthcare, media/communications, and engineering. Possibilities include having students substitute tests in a chosen Career Pathway for one of the social studies Regents exams. Also mentioned were having high schools gear course offerings toward specific pathways, having students pick the high school they attend for their Career Pathway offerings
  • Ms. Suttmeier also announced that the Bridge Alternate Transition Program is preparing to move from its current location at Warren and Fourth Streets to a building three block west on Warren Street formerly owned by Coarc. The Bridge is also looking to take in students from other districts in addition to Hudson and Catskill.

The next School Board meeting will take place Monday, November 24, at the Hudson High School library at 6:30 p.m. instead of the usual 7 p.m. Bruce Potter, superintendent of Berkshire Union Free School District, is expected to provide more details about the Bridge program at that time.

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