As Hudson crafts school budget, there’s money in bank

HUDSON–A new music teacher, budget issues and staff diversity received attention at the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education meeting Monday, March 27.

District officials presented Thomas Giosa, a new band teacher for the Junior and Senior High School. Mr. Giosa said he grew up in Plainview on Long Island, earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from SUNY Pottsdam and last year received a master’s degree in music education from Long Island University.

His post in Hudson is a “full-time teaching assignment,” he said. Mr. Giosa added that his favorite instrument is the trumpet. He also has a hobby of repairing instruments.

“I really appreciate what you have done,” Mr. Giosa told District officials. “I’m very happy to be on board.”

Later he said his goal was to “work closely with the administration to further enhance music education in the HCSD.”

Also at the meeting Business Administrator Sharifa Carbon announced that the latest estimate shows the district budget will be $46.3 million for the 2017-18 school year. That would represent a 0.94% increase from the current year’s budget of $45.9 million. It assumes the maximum allowed tax levy increase–2.81%.

District Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier asked the board to settle on the tax levy so she could better develop the education plan she hopes to present at the next board meeting, April 10.

Scott Preusser, an external auditor, from the firm of Raymond G. Preusser, CPA, PC, handed district officials a report for July 2015 through June 2016 and announced, “You’re in a better position than you were five years ago, because you now have reserves.”

Dr. Suttmeier said that “in 2010, when we had severe cuts, we didn’t have reserves.” The superintendent added, “Other districts had reserves and didn’t experience as severe cuts. It’s a good feeling to be here after having lived through those dark days.”

Coordinator of School Improvement April Prestipino said that despite the new uncertainty about federal support for public schools, “We will continue to do what we do,” unless required otherwise.

The current secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, is a proponent of more funding for charter schools and vouchers which could decrease the funding for public schools.

“If we don’t get enough money, where would we cut?” wondered Board Vice President Maria McLaughlin.

Ms. Carbon said that the district has contractual obligations to pay salaries.

Steven Spicer, Principal of John L. Edwards Primary School, expanded on the goal he advocated at the previous meeting: a more diverse staff. “Since the meeting, I have taken the liberty of contacting colleges and Baptist churches,” he reported. “They agreed to cooperate in compiling a list of qualified people of color” to recruit from when teaching and other staff positions open up.

“When we have an open position, we cast a wide net,” said Dr. Suttmeier. “We’ve been sending these postings out for years.” Nevertheless “We don’t have a large applicant pool.”

“I’m interested in outcome based success,” said Mr. Spicer. “If you set diversity goals and fail, you can look at what you did and what you can change.”

In other business:

• Dr. Gladys Cruz and Harry Hadjioannou, the superintendent and deputy superintendent, respectively, of the Questar III BOCES, presented that organization’s status and goals

• Ms. Prestipino announced, “We are looking at the new science and social studies standards”

• Board member Sage Carter announced that the fence around the area of the reconstruction of the High School sports field will be installed on or about April 10. The reconstruction project is expected to begin April 17

• Dr. Suttmeier blamed snow for the disappointing turnout at the parent rally for student safety March 16. She mentioned the possibility of holding another, similar event.

The next meeting of the HCSD Board of Education will take place Monday, April 10, at 7 p.m. at the Hudson High School library.

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