Safety, tardy kids occupy Hudson school board

HUDSON–Music, students leaving school before the final bell, and street-crossing safety highlighted the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education meeting Monday, September 28.

Five students in the Hudson High School Jazz Ensemble played music, and music teacher Scott Vorwald thanked mentor Craig Bender for helping obtain instruments for HCSD students. Mr. Bender arranges benefit concerts, with proceeds used to buy instruments. “Because of this influx of instruments, our music program is blooming,” said Mr. Vorwald, who praised the administration for providing a repair budget.

Board President Maria McLaughlin said that music is a valuable part of school and “helps students do better in math.”

Hudson High School students Brianna Tsitserra, Daniel Folds, Noah Wurster, Kristian Tempasis and Jake Ebel played Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man.” Their instruments included flute, clarinet, percussion, and electric guitar.

The next benefit concert for school music will take place Sunday, October 11, at the Spencertown Academy, at 11 am. One can purchase tickets on line from KidsNeedMusic.Eventbrite.com.

The District’s four Community Schools Parent Coordinators reported that their current main focus is raising attendance and reducing tardiness, according to Melanie Miller. Claire Cousin, assigned to the junior and senior high schools, said that in upper grades, parents have less control over whether and when their children arrive at school.

Danielle Gilleo, assigned to the intermediate school, said that over the summer she contacted parents of incoming third graders who had had many absences in primary school. Meanwhile, Willette Jones, assigned to the primary school, said, “Habits formed in primary school last” into later grades.

“What about parents who take their children out of school early, because it’s more convenient for the parents?” asked Board Member Carrie Otty. She and Ms. McLaughlin mentioned knowing of parents picking up children 15 to 30 minutes before the end of the school day, “as if the last half our isn’t important.”

“Why do they have that choice?” demanded a woman in the audience.

“Because they’re parents,” answered Coordinator of School Improvement April Prestipino. Furthermore, she explained, as long as a child is in school over half the school day, the state considers the child to have attended.

In addition to working on attendance, Ms. Gilleo mentioned arranging for 4th graders to mentor 3rd graders and 6th graders to mentor 5th graders. She said children could feel most comfortable with mentors close to their age. And Ms. Cousin said some high school students contacted her about arranging a trip out of state to visit some historically African-American colleges.

In the public forum session, Hudson resident Maija Reed said, “I was driving up State Street one morning and saw two women leading about six children across the dangerous intersection,” at 4th and Carroll Streets. She assumed that the women were walking the children to the Primary School behind the Hudson Area Library, which faces the intersection. Ms. Reed suggested stationing a crossing guard there.

“The District doesn’t have crossing guards,” said Ms. Prestipino.

“You’re not the only person with that concern,” Ms. McLaughlin told Ms. Reed. “There’s a policeman in the morning, but he’s at the school.”

“Facilities has talked and talked and talked about” this issue, said Board Member Sage Carter.

Board Member William Kappel noted that there is not even a sign saying “School. Slow Down!”

Ms. McLaughlin suggested scheduling a discussion about whether to hire crossing guards.

Also at the meeting:

  • The board presented Leslie Coons, appointed Confidential Secretary from October 13, 2015 through June 30, 2016, to take many functions over from Frieda Van Deusen, who is retiring. Meanwhile, the Board is still open to applications to replace Robert Yusko, who just resigned as Business Executive to go to Glens Falls. And the Board clarified that John E. McKinney’s pay as Interim Business Administrator will be $739 per diem
  • Hudson resident and massage therapist Rodney DeJong says he is working on a health education project for kindergarten through 3rd grade. He would like to have teachers teach it to their students, in the hope of “preventing them from becoming among the 60% of all Americans who are overweight. “ He was advised to talk to the county Department of Health in Hudson
  • Ms. Carter raised the issue of term lengths, which the board had discussed a few weeks ago. Her colleagues and Ms. Prestipino said they had to explore the issue further.

The next Board of Education meeting will take place Monday, October 26, 2015, at the John L. Edwards Primary School Cafeteria, instead of the High School. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

On Thursday, October 1, the HCSD holds a second Community Conversation on visions for 2020 at the Primary School cafeteria from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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