Hudson faces task of recruiting diverse faculty, staff

HUDSON–Advocating more ethnic diversity in school staff and authorizing the use of naloxone in schools highlighted the Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting Monday, March 13.

Steven Spicer, principal of John L. Edwards Primary School, offered to help the district increase the diversity of teachers and administration staffs. “While the percent students of color is rising, the percent of teachers of color is not,” he said. He gave board members a series of articles related to the matter, including some showing benefits of a diverse staff.

“The first step,” said Mr. Spicer, “is to want to increase diversity.” Another step is to specify a number or percent of people of color that the district seeks. This can be hard to accomplish, he acknowledged. The Kingston school system set a diversity goal two years ago and has not met it yet. But he said that at least the Kingston District is learning what works and does not work.

Say you have an open position, and you want to consider seven candidates, said Mr. Spicer. You can have a goal of having three candidates of color, though he acknowledged that it is “hard to find such candidates, especially in a rural district.”

“How do you get teachers of color to come to our community?” asked Board Member Shamayyah Shabazz.

“Get in touch with black organizations and with colleges with teaching programs,” Mr. Spicer recommended. “Find out when a person of color graduates. If you have no position to consider that person for now, keep him or her un mind for future positions. Mr. Spicer also mentioned the Today’s Student, Tomorrow’s Teacher program, which targets certain high school sophomores, helps them through high school to graduation, pays at least half of their college tuition, and brings them back to their home district to teach.

Ms. Shabazz noted that people of color include “not just African Americans. We also have people from India, Bangladesh and Haiti.”

Also at the meeting, the board approved an Opioid Overdose Prevention Program that includes adding Narcan nasal spray kits to each of the four school buildings’ automatic defibrillator cabinets. Each nurse’s office will also have a spare Narcan kit. Narcan, a brand name for naloxone, can be used as an emergency antidote to opioid overdose while awaiting medical help and should not harm people who have not taken opioids.

District Superintendent Maria Suttmeier appointed Director of Student Services Kim Lybolt director of the Opioid Abuse Prevention Program, saying, “this has very little impact on her work.” Ms. Lybolt was present and accepted the post.

Board President Carrie Otty noted that the policy authorizes permission to give Narcan to students and staff, but, she asked, “What about outside people” on school premises?

The policy “is silent on this,” answered Dr. Suttmeier.

“On purpose,” added board Vice President Maia McLaughlin.

“We have to protect ourselves,” Dr. Suttmeier said.

In other business March 13:

• Ms. Lybolt said that both she and her counterparts at other area school districts have noticed more students with medical diagnoses of seizures this year than “ever before.” Many suffer from “absent seizures,” which are almost too short to notice but still can put the person who suffers from them in danger

• Dr. Suttmeier reported attending a meeting in Arizona of education officials from around the country and finding that “the Common Core has given us common ground. We can talk about the same standards and know what we all mean”

• Ms. Lybolt gave a presentation on the district’s special education needs

• Dr. Suttmeier announced that the high school boys varsity volleyball team has won the Section II Class B Championship, and basketball player Tyler Dellavechia was named Scholar Athlete of the year

• Dr. Suttmeier said that every year the district does not raise taxes by the maximum percent allowed “we’re cutting from future years.”

The next School Board meeting is Monday, March 27, following a community budget workshop at 6:30 p.m. at the Hudson High School Library.

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