Hudson nears decision on new schools superintendent

HUDSON—An opening on the school board, administrative changes, a thank-you, diversity, and Junior High updates dominated the Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting November 16.

Within two months, the district expects to get a new board president, a new superintendent, a new high school associate principal, and a new board clerk.

Current Board President Carrie Otty will resign with the January 18 meeting and her successor as president will almost certainly be someone already on the board and her departure will leave the board short a member. Anyone wishing to apply to become the board’s newest member should submit a letter of interest to the board clerk by December 16.

Ms. Otty has been on the board over 10 years five years. She became president in July 2015, following a series of presidents, none of whom lasted more than 18 months in the position.

District Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier said she does not know anyone who has been on the board as long as Ms. Otty and thanked her for “stability,” “consistency,” and board committee work.

“You’ve been a champion of our students,” Dr. Suttmeier told her. Ms. Otty said it had been a pleasure to serve on the board.

Dr. Suttmeier is planning to retire in early January. Board member Mark DePace reported that 19 people had applied to succeed her. Of these, eight had been selected to undergo interviews, taking place the week of November 15. The final decision should be made around December 6, which is before the next regular board meeting. Student Representative Jacob Hromada reported that two high school students have been chosen to participate in the superintendent search as stakeholders, Simon Rowe, a senior, and Neshath Khan, a junior.

Meanwhile, William Wood, associate principal of Hudson High School, will leave December 3 to become Principal of Questar III BOCES’ Columbia Greene Education Center in Greenport. He said several “strong candidates” had applied to succeed him.

In addition, this was Leslie Coons’ last meeting as board clerk. She has served in this capacity for six years. Now she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren, while continuing to serve the district as secretary to the business administrator. For the rest of the year the board clerk duties will be done by Human Resources Manager Rachel Rissetto. In January Tracy Gaffney, secretary to the superintendent, will take over the position.

Ms. Otty presented Ms. Coons with a big goody basket as thanks.

‘You’ve been a champion of our students.’

Dr. Maria Suttmeier, superintendent

Hudson City School District

Science teacher Wayne Kinney thanked members of the school community who had supported and helped him through a crisis. One day at school he was uncharacteristically forgetful and clumsy. His colleagues sent him to the hospital, with High School Principal Robert LaCasse not letting him drive himself. Doctors found a threatening brain condition resulting from a fall two months earlier. As a result, he underwent brain surgery. Now he is back at work. Dr. Suttmeier joined him in thanking the Blue Hawk community for helping him.

On another topic, the board is developing its Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Policy. Accordingly, board members discussed how to guard against “over-identifying” students of certain demographics for college courses, AP courses, remedial classes, and special education classes. The board expects to interview a candidate in late November for the position of Diversity Equity Inclusivity coordinator.

The meeting included a curriculum workshop about the junior high, which has 6th through 8th grades. Speakers included teachers Jennifer Clark, Michelle Cousens, and Anna Wheeler; Dean Shawn Briscoe; Principal Derek Reardon; and a half dozen 7th graders in Ms. Clark’s AVID class (see below). Topics also included , CKLA , classroom culture, and “houses.”

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination ) is a college preparatory program. It includes doing things outside one’s “comfort zone,” such as public speaking, a student said.

CKLA (Core Knowledge Language Arts) is the reading program used in 6th grade (and elementary school), which also includes science and social studies applications.

The “classroom culture” should welcome, include and accept all students in an atmosphere of safety, honesty, respect, and mutual trust, Mr. Briscoe said. This includes building the “relational capacity,” the level of trust and safety felt between students and teachers and within students. The school held a Relational Capacity Day and hopes to hold more.

On the first Relational Capacity Day, the seventh grade AVID students led other students and teachers through games. They demonstrated this at the November 16 meeting, by moving the board and administrators through a game of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Cups.

The junior high has divided the students and faculty into “houses,” which compete against each other for points for attendance, classroom behavior and various games, Mr. Briscoe reported. Each house includes students from all grades, has a faculty advisor and holds monthly meetings. Each elects its student leader (an 8th grader) and grade representatives. To encourage the desire for higher education, the houses have names of colleges: SUNY Albany, Bard, Cazenovia, and Siena.

Further fun could come with the junior high’s morning announcements. Every day, the announcements include a fact about a career or college, a vocabulary-building word definition, a quote of the day, or a riddle, Mr. Briscoe said.

Also at the meeting:

• Jacob, the student representative, reported that boys modified volleyball may have to be canceled due to lack of players, and that several winter sports teams have noticeably fewer players than in previous years. Some students have pointed out that most of the other schools that Hudson High plays against do let unvaccinated students play

• Dr. Suttmeier reported discussing with other education officials the inflexibility resulting from narrowed certification. It was easier to move a special education teacher between grade levels when there was just one special education certification.

The next meeting of the Hudson City School District Board of Education will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, December 7 at the Hudson High School library.

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