For Hudson voters, fire station is now school poll site

HUDSON–The school board has designated a firehouse on 7th Street as the new place for Hudson residents to vote in school elections. At its February 11 meeting the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education also covered construction projects, repeating kindergarten, weekend school packs, the budget and the Elementary School Student Council.

Until now, Hudson residents voted on school matters at the John L. Edwards Primary School, but the school closed last summer. So the HCSD needed a replacement. Business Administrator Sharifa Carbon and Board Clerk Leslie Coons reported that they had explored three possible locations in Hudson. Of these, the fire station had the best layout for voting and parking.

Furthermore, two election officials recommended it. Schools Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier added that the facility had space for live music, art work, and other ancillary events that could attract people to come and vote. Subsequently, the board voted to use that location, 77 North 7th Street in Hudson, at the intersection of North 7th and Washington streets.

Also at the meeting, Dr. Suttmeier suggested that the money budgeted for but not used up by the recent construction project could now be used at Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School (MCS) for rebuilding stairs, replacing some stairs with ramps, fencing the playground, and building a sidewalk on the Crosswinds housing side. If there is still money left over, it can be used for installing LED lighting at both campuses: MCS and the Junior-Senior High School.

In addition, Dr. Suttmeier reported, “We’re moving along with two-year kindergarten” and the district is also considering expanding the program planned for this September.

In this program, each year of two-year kindergarten will have its own classroom and curriculum. Originally, the HCSD’s first year of two-year kindergarten was to have only one class: Year 1 of two-year kindergarten for 15 to 20 students who, at kindergarten screening, seem to need two years of preparation before first grade. But now under consideration for this September is an additional class: Year 2 of Two-Year Kindergarten for children currently in kindergarten who seem to need an additional year of preparation before first grade.

In other business at the meeting:

• Linda Fix and Kathy Clark reported on their involvement with the Backpack Program, which gives backpacks or bags of food for the weekend to students who, their teachers indicate, need them. This program serves every school in the Columbia County. In the HCSD, they said, it currently serves 54 students in elementary school, and 30 in junior and senior high school.

“Every Thursday we’re packing [food] for the students,” the speakers said. “Every other Thursday the Regional Food Bank delivers to the High School loading dock.”

The speakers acknowledged that some students, especially in upper grades, felt stigmatized by the food backpacks, so they pack for them inconspicuous bags. They recalled a letter they got from a student at Columbia Greene Community College thanking them for the food-for-weekends they had given him in 2012, when he had been in high school and homeless

• “This is an interesting budget season,” Ms. Carbon said. Although she doesn’t anticipate “drastic measures in this district,” she said the governor’s first budget proposal contained a “disconcerting” plan to combine 11 student services and programs, each currently funded separately, into “one bucket.”

Mrs. Carbon indicated she will be able to make more recommendations once the state budget comes closer to the final version

• Four MCS Student Council members gave presentations on their activities. The council consists of 14 fifth graders. Of these, Nathan Mabb, Tayden Ridley, Madison Sickler, and Cadence Weiss came, along with their staff advisors Danya Penney, Laurel Seminack, and Cindy Van Alphen. MCS Principal Mark Brenneman introduced them.

The students reported on the council’s involvement in recycling, a science fair, the 5th grade dance, decorating and packing food baskets for 29 families, and buddy reading for pre-kindergarten. They are donating the money received from recycling to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

• The Board and Dr. Suttmeier introduced Sarit Saad, a new behavior teaching assistant at MCS. Ms. Saad, originally from Israel, said she came to the United States 15 years ago and comes to the HCSD from the Cairo-Durham School District, where she was a substitute teacher for 2 years

• Lisa Pierro, inventory clerk and assistant to Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds George Keeler appeared for the announcement of her switch from part time to full time.

The next meeting of the HCSD Board of Education will take place Monday, February 25, at 6:30 p.m., at the Hudson High School library.

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