HUDSON—The Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education got good news confirmed about the district’s most recent graduation rate last week. The board also heard details about a return to in-person vs. remote schooling as well as news that a board member has resigned.
At the January 19 school board meeting Assistant Superintendent of School Improvement Dr. April Prestipino reported that 80% of students who entered high school in the fall of 2016 have graduated, according to data just released by the state. If one looks at Hudson High School specifically, 84% have graduated. This is a remarkable improvement for the district, where just 10 years ago the graduation rate was fluctuating close to 60%.
Looking ahead, Hudson High School juniors and seniors will have the opportunity to take in-person classes for the first time since last March, district Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier announced. Seniors can come Monday and Tuesday, juniors Thursday and Friday. On the other hand, third through fifth graders, who have had in-person classes since September, had a stint of all-remote classes for several days “due to lack of staff to bring them safely in,” said Dr. Suttmeier.
Robotics team members can use a classroom on Saturdays, and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office may use the High School pool on weekends in February “for training first responders for the dive team,” Dr. Suttmeier confirmed. Furthermore, athletic fields are being prepared for the “less risky” sports that might resume this spring. The thorough cleaning of facilities after any use applies to weekends as well as weekdays.
Creating the budget for next school year, 2021-22, has begun. Dr. Suttmeier remarked that this will be a bigger challenge without more specific direction from the state. Other superintendents she has talked to feel the same way. Right now the best approach is “to budget for what we have now”—a hybrid model—she concluded.
“We’re learning as we go,” Dr. Suttmeier said. “We see what works” and adopt it. A word suitable for this year, she said, is “improvement.”
For the 2021-22 school year, the state will allow the HCSD’s tax levy to increase to no more than 1.23% above this year’s tax levy, reported Business Administrator Jesse Boehme. This is the lowest percentage increase allowed in some time, he observed.
The meeting also included a curriculum workshop about the Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School (MCS), which has pre-kindergarten through 5th grade. Most of the workshop dealt with teaching reading. Topics covered included pronunciation, phonics, language comprehension, reading comprehension and looking for a reading series. MCS Principal Mark Brenneman said the school is “diligently” considering two possible series and asking questions such as: “What do we want in a reading series?” and “How do we present phonics?”
Dr. Suttmeier reported that the Hudson River Bank and Trust Company interested in contributing up to $60,000 toward the cost of a new reading series.
“We’re still being innovative despite changes,” Dr. Suttmeier said.
MCS Associate Principal Amanda Klopott spoke about character education, where pupils focus on a desirable character trait such as kindness. Lessons include strategies for developing that trait and readings that connect with the trait.
Board Member Justin Elliott has resigned, citing other commitments. Given the time of year, the board decided to wait and fill his position at the May 18 school district election. At that time district residents will vote on both the school budget and board members. Since Mr. Elliott’s term was to expire in 2022, his replacement is to serve one year before facing the voters again.
Mr. Elliott joined the Board in 2019. “We really will miss him,” said Dr. Suttmeier. “He was a very active member of the Board. Thank-you Justin.”
‘We’re learning as we go.’
Supt. Maria L. Suttmeier
Hudson City School District
Also at the meeting:
• Student Representative Noshin Tasnim reported that the Student Council is reaching out to a variety of alumni who followed a variety of paths after graduating from Hudson High School, in order to present their stories to students still in school
• Dr. Suttmeier reported the introduction of kiosks that can read the temperature of a person standing about a foot away
• Dr. Prestipino reported that the district is applying to extend its grant for the My Brother’s Keeper program
• Old school archives, some going back years, are sitting in the John L. Edwards building, the Facilities Committee reported. The district is seeking to sell the building, and the archives must go elsewhere by the time the new owner takes possession. The building was used as a school from 1964 to 2018.
The next meeting of the Hudson City School District Board of Education will take place Tuesday, February 2. Right before it, a community budget workshop will take place at 6 p.m. The regular meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.