HUDSON–First grade science kits, bleachers, upcoming changes in how cars can enter Hudson High School grounds and more steps toward computerizing state assessment tests highlighted the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education meeting Monday, October 23.
The meeting began with a curriculum workshop. Steven Spicer, principal of John L. Edwards Primary School, explained the new Foss Science kits used in first grade. For the unit on Sound and Light, a lesson included making fiddles with a cup, a book, and rubber bands. On their own, some children discovered that by moving the cups, they changed the sounds the rubber bands made. Other science units include Air and Weather, and Plants and Animals. For the Foss Science kits, Mr. Spicer thanked the school board, Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier, and Coordinator of School Improvement April Prestipino.
Also in the curriculum workshop, educators Lisa Dolan, Karen Kohler and Marlena Peduzzi explained how data helps identify those children who need extra academic help.
After the workshop, in the main meeting, board member Sage Marie Carter spoke about planned changes to the new high school football field: more home bleachers, possibilities for seating in the visitors’ section, and moving the concession stand. The need for these changes became evident only during the first season the new field was in use. For the home section, about 22 feet will be added to each side of the bleachers, about doubling the seating capacity. According to Ms. Carter and board President Carrie Otty, the cement is to be laid “this year,” and the additional bleachers will be installed in the spring.
“We know we need them, after the crowds we’ve had,” said Dr. Suttmeier.
Currently the visiting team spectator section is a rise in the ground, where some people set up their own folding chairs. The Board discussed the possibility of supplying seats. Dr. Suttmeier reported that Buildings and Grounds Superintendent George Keeler had suggested that once the new home section bleachers are installed, the portable bleachers currently used there can be moved to the visitors section. This would seat about 200.
The refreshment stand will be moved farther from the locker room area to reduce crowding. This stand uses former classrooms, and changing its location is just a matter of using a different former classroom, according to Ms. Otty and Ms. Carter.
The driveway from Harry Howard Avenue and Joslen Boulevard to the Hudson High School parking lot is undergoing reconfiguration to separate the cars driven by students, parents and teachers from the school busses.
“It will be tricky when it opens, because people aren’t used to it,” said Ms. Carter. “It’s going from a three-way stop to a four-way stop.” The Board discussed how to alert drivers to the change when it gets close to happening.
The lack of crossing guards was also acknowledged as a problem. Board member Linda Hopkins suggested lighted signs to alert drivers.
In addition, Ms. Carter announced that the district had awarded bids and has broken ground on construction on the project to enlarge the Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School. The school is being modified to add pre-kindergarten through first grade next September for a total of seven grade levels: pre-kindergarten through 5th grade.
Also at the meeting:
• Ms. Prestipino reported on the district’s preparation for converting the 3rd through 8th grade state assessment tests from paper to computer. Under consideration for this year is “rolling out” the computer tests to one grade for English language arts (ELA) and another grade for math.
But for tests taken on computers, “The scoring process is completely different. We have to discuss this with Questar,” she said. Questar III is the regional board of cooperative educational services. The state Education Department has not yet specified the year by which all assessment tests in all grades must be by computer, and many other districts are using about as many paper state tests as HCSD
• Dr. Suttmeier suggested that with the importance the district places on career readiness and on giving students the option of choosing to prepare for certain career paths, one of these paths should be teaching.
“I’m interested to see if we can home-grow teachers,” she said. Doing so could add diversity to the pool of new teachers
• The superintendent reported that the Middletown School District in Orange County has an option of 2-year kindergarten, and that possibility is worth considering for Hudson. She described Middletown as “similar to Hudson: high poverty rate, wide diversity of students, and preponderance of families who do not speak English at home.”
In the Middletown program, at the time of kindergarten screening, children found “not ready for kindergarten” are put in 2-year kindergarten. After completing the second year, they go to first grade. Many perform academically ahead of their first grade classmates who had only one year of kindergarten.
Among the considerations for the program are its implications for pre-kindergarten and the possibility of 8-year-old 1st graders would be 16 in their first year of high school.
The next meeting of the HCSD Board of Education will take place Monday, November 13, at the Hudson Junior High School library. The regular meeting will start at 6:30 p.m., following a curriculum workshop at 6 p.m. It will take place at the Junior High instead of the high school.