McLaughlin chosen president by Hudson school board

HUDSON–The Board of Education has elected Maria McLaughlin president. She becomes the fourth person to hold that position in the last two and a half years.

At its meeting July 2, the board’s first of the 2015-16 school year, board members also elected David Kisselburgh vice president, assigned board members to committees, and appointed individuals to posts for the year as part of the annual organization process. The board still needs a new member to fill the vacancy left by a recent resignation. Anyone interested in joining the board should contact board Clerk Frieda Van Deusen as soon as possible and appear at the school board’s July 27 meeting at the Junior High School. At that meeting, the board members will acknowledge the applicants and might pick one of them to fill the vacancy.

Ms. McLaughlin has served on the Hudson City School District Board of Education for a year. She holds a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from York College in Pennsylvania. After several years as a house parent for Camphill in Minnesota, she moved to Hudson in 2013. She and her husband, Nathan, keep up their involvement with Camphill at Solaris in Hudson. They have two children, with the older attending the John L. Edwards Primary School, where Ms. McLaughlin has been involved with the PTA.

“I feel strongly about living in Hudson and loving this city,” Ms. McLaughlin said at the meeting.

She then posed a question to her fellow board members, asking, “What are we going to do to answer to the district’s not good ranking?” She said all board members have strengths, and of herself, she said, “I strive to complete what I set out to complete. I show up all the time. I have a lot of good ideas; we need to follow through with them.”

Ms. McLaughlin replaces Peter Rice, who resigned as president and a board member effective June 30, citing personal reasons. Her other predecessors were Peter Merante, who served until April 2013 and Kelly Frank, who left in September 2014.

Mr. Kisselburgh, the new board vice president, has been on the board since October 2013. He was born in Hudson, attended Hudson city schools, went to SUNY Delhi and has worked at Columbia Memorial Hospital since the 1980s, recently as director of environmental services. He has also coached girls’ softball. All eight of his children, step-children and grand-children attended or attend Hudson public schools.

Mr. Kisselburgh, who also was a candidate for board president but lost to Ms. McLaughlin, told the board that all members of the board had the qualities needed to be president. The board elects it officers from among the board members.

“We need to become a district of choice” he said. He praised district Superintendent Maria Suttmeier, saying, “Her whole heart’s into it,” but he added, “what we’ve done up to now has not been working.

“We won’t become a district of choice unless we engage the parents,” Mr. Kisselburgh said. “At board meetings, we talk to empty seats. These empty seats are unacceptable.”

Board member William Kappell asked Mr. Kisselburgh what ideas he had for achieving his goals.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t know,” Mr. Kisselburgh replied. “But I know where we want to go. And I’m known enough in town” to have influence.

Board Member Carrie Otty asked Mr. Kisselburgh if his job could interfere with his meeting attendance. He said that though he is on call 24/7, he has had a conflict between work and School Board only twice. “We all have jobs,” he said.

Mr. Kisselburgh’s predecessor, Tiffany Martin Hamilton, on the Board since 2012 and vice president since 2013, is running for mayor of Hudson. She expressed openness to continuing as vice president “because I’m used to it, and I can help Maria [McLaughlin].”

But other board members noted that if she is elected Mayor, she will have to leave the school board in January, causing another disruption. “If we’re going to move forward, we can’t wait until January or the outcome of another election,” said Mr. Kisselburgh.

Besides, Mr. Kappell observed, during campaign season, “Tiffany is going to have her hands full.” Ms. Hamilton will stay on the board until and unless she becomes mayor.

At the meeting the board also made committee and other assignments for the year.

  • Audit: Ms. Hamilton, Mr. Kappell, and Ms. McLaughlin
  • Budget: Mr. Kappell and Ms. Otty
  • Facilities: Sage Carter and Mr. Kisselburgh
  • Policy: Ms. Carter, Mr. Kisselburgh and Ms. McLaughlin
  • Frieda Van Deusen, board clerk; Business Manager Robert Yusko, purchasing agent and records officer; Florence Stickles, district treasurer and tax collector; Mary Jane Ames, deputy treasurer; Buildings and Grounds Director George Keeler, coordinator of several health, safety, and access programs; and Student Services and Special Education Director Kim Lybolt as compliance officer for medicaid and section 504 and liaison for the education of homeless children and youth
  • The firm of Rapport Meyers LLP was named the school district’s attorney at $200/hour; the school physician is a consultant agreement with Scott A. Pregont, MD at $1,416.67/month.

The next board meeting will take place Monday, July 27, at 7 p.m. at the Junior High School library.

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