HUDSON– Voters in the Hudson City School District approved two propositions in a special election Tuesday, February 9.
On Proposition 2, a $19.9-million bond issue to fund expansion and capital improvements at the M.C. Smith Intermediate School and capital improvements at Hudson High School and the John L. Edwards Primary School, the vote was Yes 611 versus No 399.
On Proposition 1, which authorizes the sale of Claverack School building on Route 23B, the vote was Yes 935 versus No 79.
The buyer of the Claverack School building is Jeffrey Gibson and the minimum price is $380,000. The building has not been used as a school for many years but was recently converted into a temporary county courthouse while the County Courthouse on Union Street underwent expansion and renovations.
Proposition 2 was referred to as the Capital Project and the part of that plan that received the most public attention before the vote is the plan to enlarge the Montgomery C. Smith School building (MCS). The intermediate school currently holds 3rd through 6th grades and will now be modified to hold more grades. This will enable the District to close the John L. Edwards Primary School (JLE), which currently holds pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade.
The overall goal is that by about 2020 the district will have two campuses: MCS for pre-kindergarten through 5th grade, with the Junior/Senior High handling 6th through 12th grades. Currently, the district has three campuses.
The Capital Project’s other goals include: upgrades to the heating and cooling systems and lighting improvements, all in response to government standards; building a new track and athletic fields; and bringing the oldest wing at MCS up to contemporary standards.
The district held a series of meetings, called community conversations, prior to the vote. The last one took place February 3. District Superintendent Dr. Maria Suttmeier and Buildings and Grounds Superintendent George Keeler presided over that meeting, which was attended by about 25 people, including three school board members, district administrators and several adolescent girls, among others.
Issues the public raised included the cafeteria, multiple grade classes, and the impact on taxes.
Dr. Suttmeier reported that the food service people say that MCS’s existing cafeteria is big enough to handle an increased student body. “We’ll just add more service jobs” and activate currently-unused service lanes, she said.
At earlier meetings, Dr. Suttmeier and Mr. Keeler indicated that after the consolidation, younger and older children will share the cafeteria, buses and the nurse’s office, but each will have its own gym and playground.
Dr. Suttmeier also announced, “I had the pleasure today of walking through the Intermediate School and seeing 6th graders with sashes as hall monitors helping younger kids to classes. They were empowered.” With the concerns expressed at this and previous meetings about the influence of older children on younger ones, Dr. Suttmeier said that this was an example of how that influence could be positive.
The redistribution of grades across buildings will take place in stages and begin almost immediately, before MCS gets its addition. This September, the 6th grade will move from MCS to the Junior High building, which Dr. Suttmeier says has “ample room” to take on another grade. In September 2017, the 2nd grade will move from JLE to MCS.
At the February 3 event, a teacher of a special class that contains both first and second graders asked where, come September 2017, her class would take place. Dr. Suttmeier indicated that it would stay at JLE, because kindergarten and first grade must be in the same building.
Dr. Suttmeier implied that she shares the attachment the community has for JLE and the emotion that its closure evokes. “It’s difficult to look at the murals painted on the walls,” she said.