Hudson’s flake-free winter means May snow day

HUDSON–The Board of Education has voted to take an unused snow day May 13. That action plus discussions of the upcoming budget, taxes, school board term lengths and when to hold a parade to honor the basketball team were all part of the board meeting Monday, March 28.

Since the District schools were not forced to close for any snow days this winter, Superintendent Maria Suttmeier suggested that the district close Friday, May 13. This day off, she said, would be for not only the students and for the staff, who put in extra hours because of the phishing scam. The board approved unanimously.

Business Administrator Sharifa Carbon presented preliminary budget figures for the 2016-17 school year. The proposal calls for about $46 million in spending, at least half a million dollars above the current year’s expenditures. Ms. Carbon proposed raising the tax levy 2.15%. The maximum increase allowed the district this year under the state spending cap is 2.6%, but raising it the full amount this year would reduce the amount the district could raise it next year. Ms. Carbon said she hoped to get “final figures” by the end of next week.

“I don’t see cuts in staff or in student programs,” she said.

“I don’t expect anything shocking,” added Dr. Suttmeier. “We’re remaining optimistic.”

Ms. Carbon said the district faces “many changes and transitions” in the year ahead. Concerns include the state tax cap law, fluctuations in state aid, contract negotiations and employee benefits costs, increases in special education and the loss of extra aid that the district received because previous poor performance resulted in a “focus” school designation by the state. Dr. Suttmeier observed that the District got aid to get out of its focus designation but is not getting aid to maintain its higher standing.

On Tuesday, May 17, District voters will both decide whether to approve the next year’s school budget and elect candidates to the three open seats on the board.

The board read a draft of an amendment to its bylaws that would change board members’ terms from five to three years. With five-year terms, unforeseen life changes frequently cause board members to resign before their terms expires. Board members believe that with three-year terms, more members could stay for an entire term. The proposal would stagger terms and one term that expires this spring would remain a 5-year stint one more time. The agreed to fine tune and re-read the draft before voting to accept it.

The high school boys’ basketball team made it to the state semi-finals this season, drawing such widespread public support that several people, including Dr. Suttmeier, want to honor the team with a parade. But local events are already scheduled for every upcoming weekend and a weekday parade would “take away from instructional time,” Dr. Suttmeier said.

Also at the meeting:

• James Chaplin, the board’s student representative, reported that a high school science teacher wants to organize a field trip next year to Iceland

• Dr. Suttmeier reported that one challenge in redesigning part of the Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School building to hold 2nd grade is where to place the bathrooms. Though classrooms will not have them, the teachers must still be able to watch their children going to and from the bathrooms

• Substitute nurses currently are paid $20/hour, and the board decided to study what nearby districts pay in order to decide whether to raise the pay of substitute nurses

• All teachers, school administrators and Level 3 teacher’s aides must register every five years during their birth month in order to keep their certification, according to a new state law, said Coordinator of School Improvement April Prestipino

• The Board discussed the program presented to it at an earlier meeting by the Grade$ Count startup company. This program would award students who get good grades, along with their families, teachers, schools, and districts, via debit cards and discounts on certain merchandise. “I see it as two different requests,” said Dr. Suttmeier. “Using Hudson for a music video promoting their program, and implementing the program.” Both would require more information from the company

•The student play “The Little Mermaid” will be performed at Hudson High School on Harry Howard Avenue Friday through Sunday, April 1 through 3, with evening shows Friday and Saturday and a Sunday matinee.

The next School Board meeting will be Monday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at the high school library.

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