Federal funds help immigrant students learn

HUDSON–Immigrant students, kindergarten class sizes and construction options for the current Intermediate School building received attention at the Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting Monday, August 22.

The federal government has given the District extra money for the education of immigrant students in the 2016-17 school year, because so many immigrants whose primary language is other than English entered the District in the 2015-16 school year.

April Prestipino, coordinator of school improvement, announced the funding at the meeting.

The district has already added staff for these students. Ms. Prestipino said that the country where last year’s new immigrant students were most likely to have come from is Bangladesh.

District Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier reported that Primary School Principal Steven Spicer expressed concern about the impact of kindergarteners who have registered after staffing and classroom decisions had already been made. Recently, Dr. Suttmeier said, the district has had about 150 kindergarten students per year with seven teachers. But by the beginning of this summer, only about 100 children had been registered for this fall’s kindergarten. So for the 2016-17 school year, only six teachers were assigned to kindergarten.

Since then more children have been registered and to date, Dr. Suttmeier announced, the incoming kindergarten size is 126. That number of students means there will be 1 teacher for every 21 students. That’s about the same student-to-teacher ratio as there was when there were 7 teachers for 150 kindergarteners, and Dr. Suttmeier concluded, there is “no reason for alarm.”

Also this week the superintendent also reported that the district is “looking at” at least two different architectural renditions of an enlarged Montgomery C. Smith building and will pick one to be built. In the school year about to open, the building will serve 3rd through 5th grades. Last year it served 3rd through 6th grades as the Intermediate School, and decades ago it was the High School. The original building was erected in the 1930s and it has grown by additions. The district now envisions it serving pre-kindergarten through 5th grade by about 2020, but to hold seven grade levels the building needs another addition.

A new addition was designed with one story. But the land on which it would sit turned out to need more expensive preparation than anticipated. This would put the project “over budget,” Dr. Suttmeier said, so the architect has proposed a two-story alternative, which would use less land. But that approach would cost more than the one-story plan. Nevertheless, Dr. Suttmeier said of the two-story concept, “aesthetically we like it better.”

The district is evaluating its options. The goal, Dr. Suttmeier said, is a design that’s economically responsible without sacrificing “academic quality.” District representatives and the architects hold meetings on this project every Monday at 11 a.m.

The next Board of Education meeting will be Monday, September 12, at 7 p.m. at the Hudson High School library.

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