Hudson graduation rate grows 21% over last six years

HUDSON–Improved outcomes, a new student representative, new academic programs, extracurricular transportation, Price Chopper, a new district slogan, and the first day of school highlighted the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education meeting Monday, September 10.

Superintendent Maria L Suttmeier reported several academic improvements since last year: “Elementary grades k-2 improved 8% on the Fountas & Pinnel reading exam results; grade 4 increased their NYS science score by 9%; grades 3-5 increased their NYS scores by % in ELA and 10% in math; and grades 6 – 8 increased their scores by 6% in ELA and 2.5% in math.

Though actual scores are currently embargoed, “these increases can be shared,” she said.

ELA refers to English language arts.

Dr. Suttmeier also announced that 80% of the district’s class of 2018 cohort graduated from high school, “and that’s without factoring in the two students from this cohort who graduated this August,” she said.

She and Board President Carrie Otty contrasted these most recent results with the class of 2012, which had a graduation rate of 59%.

In addition, internal auditor Michael Wolff reported overall “positive” results for the district’s latest annual fiscal risk assessment. Some of last year’s concerns, he said, “have gone away or improved.” One cause, he suggested, is that District Treasurer Deborah Long has now held her position a whole year.

Kyle Ublacker attended the meeting as this year’s student representative to the Board. A senior at Hudson High School, he said his favorite subjects include history and environmental science. He has played sports in three seasons, belongs to various extracurricular clubs, and is a Boy Scout. His aim for next year is to attend the Unite States Air Force Academy. For this year, he said, his goals include getting trees planted on school grounds.

New programs envisioned to start next school year (20019-20) include two-year kindergarten, Dr. Suttmeier said.

Hudson High School Principal Antonio Abitabile said the district expects to offer SUNY Cobleskill courses in the high school. Currently, high school students can take some Columbia-Greene Community College (CGCC) courses in the high school building, earning both high school and college credit, for ⅓ the CGCC tuition. The courses are taught by high school teachers whom CGCC has also approved as adjunct professors. The number of students who want to take such classes exceeds the amount of places available, Mr. Abitabile implied. Now, he continued, the district and SUNY Cobleskill are exploring a similar partnership.

If all goes as planned, next year Hudson High School students will have more college course possibilities with offerings from SUNY Cobleskill and CGCC. In addition, the district offers Bard Early College, with courses off site with students from several districts.

Also at the meeting:

• Golf Team Coach Lucas Cohen asked for a van he could drive to transport his team. Though it “never has had more than 12 kids,” the team travels in a full size school bus, whose drivers during games, “sit for hours and do nothing,” Mr. Lucas said. Allowing him to drive his team “would save the district thousands of dollars,” and open the possibility of stopping for after-game refreshments. The van could also serve the bowling team and other small clubs. Dr. Suttmeier said she would consider the proposal

• Business Administrator Sharifa Carbon reported that various departments and classes make frequent purchases from Price Chopper on Fairview Avenue in Greenport. Now, with that store poised to close, she is in “conversations” to arrange successors that “accept purchase orders,” whether a farther-away Price Chopper or another supplier

• Dr. Suttmeier reiterated the change of the district’s motto from “Destination Graduation, Get on board,” to “Destination Graduation to occupation.” “We have gotten on board,” she declared. Now “we can’t just churn out high school graduates with no place to go”

• Mr. Abitabile reported that in his welcoming assembly for seniors, he told them they will graduate on June 28 and have a year to determine where they will be headed on June 29

• Mr. Abitabile, Junior High Associate Principle Alyssa Sabbatino and Elementary School Principal Mark Brenneman reported the bright side of the first days of their schools. This is the first year Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School (MCS) has had seven grades (pre-kindergarten through 5th).

Dr. Suttmeier thanked the Hudson Police Department for helping people adjust to the “new traffic pattern.”

“The first day of school was a challenge, but everything is getting better every day,” said Mr. Brenneman. Lunch and dismissal time have been getting shorter.”

“The building is beautiful,” he said. “I’m proud to be principal at a time like this.”

The next meeting of the HCSD Board of Education will take place Monday, September 24, at 6:30 pm at the Hudson High School library.

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