Hudson Principal Antonio Abitabile honored by state group

HUDSON–High School Principal Antonio Abitabile won the designation Administrator of the Year for the Capital Region by the Empire State Supervisors and Administrators Association (ESSAA). The president of ESSAA’s Region 5, Chuck Smith, announced Mr. Abitabile’s award at the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education meeting Monday, June 8.

Mr. Smith said reasons for honoring Mr. Abitabile included leadership, community involvement, and the use of technology to keep track of each student’s educational development. When he met Mr. Abitabile and saw the school, as part of evaluating them for the award, Mr. Smith said, “I knew I was in the right place.”

Mr. Abitabile said, “The award has my name on it, but… it is an honor for the high school and the district.” He said he would not have been able to achieve it without the districts’ recent positive steps. “The best is to come,” he said.

This week’s meeting also included an update on pre-kindergarten, a farewell from the board’s student representative and a proposal to change school board terms from five to three years.

More children in the district will have an opportunity to attend pre-kindergarten this fall, due to a Questar III grant for Targeted Pre-kindergarten (TPK), district Superintendent Maria Suttmeier announced. Governor Cuomo has expressed a goal of pre-kindergarten for all children, but each pre-kindergarten class can have no more than 18 children. Recently, the Hudson district has had over 150 kindergarteners a year, and the kindergarten population is one way to estimate the potential pre-kindergarten population. But in 2014-15, the district had only two pre-kindergarten classes, places for only 36 children.

TPK will give the district a third pre-kindergarten class and raise its total number of pre-kindergarten places to 54, but all students in the additional class will have to meet “low income” eligibility standards and qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. According to Superintendent Suttmeier, Questar III, the regional BOCES, will pay for the TPK teacher, the teacher’s aide, and the furniture, but not for the program’s lunch or transportation. The TPK will have its own classroom at John L. Edwards Primary School. Still to be resolved is whether TPK classes will be half-day, like the district’s two other kindergarten classes, or full day.

Children registered for pre-kindergarten who meet TPK eligibility requirements will be considered for TPK, according to Superintendent Suttmeier. Other children, and TPK-qualified children after the TPK class fills up, will be considered for the two other classes.

In other business board Vice President and Hudson mayoral candidate Tiffany Hamilton proposed considering reducing school board terms from five to three years. The longer the term, the greater the chance of life changes that require leaving the board arising. Ms. Martin said that school board terms for most districts in New York state is three years. In Columbia County, the only other district with five-year terms is Taconic Hills.

Several HCSD Board members elected to five-year terms have ended up leaving before their term expires. When that happens, replacements are elected or selected for partial terms, some less than a year long.

“I’d like to look into how many people do the whole five years,” said board member William Kappel. “Three-year terms give people a chance to stay the whole term. Five years I always thought was a long time.”

Business Executive Robert Yusko reminded the Board that some current members had been elected to five-year terms, most recently Sage Carter last month.

The next step, the board and Superintendent Suttmeier agreed, is to investigate the legal requirements for changing the board term to three years.

Also at the meeting:

  • Hudson High senior Atia Begh, student representative to the board and president of the Student Council said, “This is my last meeting. I will be a Hudson High School graduate. I hope that the students who come after me will have even more opportunities than I did and will be happy and proud”
  • Mr. Yusko said that the district expects to be ready for a capital project soon, and a possible project would be a new track for high school athletics.

The next School Board meeting will be Monday, June 22, at 7:00 pm, at the Hudson High School library. Before that, on Wednesday, June 17, the Board’s Policy Committee will meet at 5 p.m. at the district office.

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