HUDSON—Budget priorities for the 2022-23 school year, taxes, and grants dominated the Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting March 1, in a presentation by Superintendent Lisamarie Spindler, Business Administrator Jesse Boehme and other district officials.
Budget priorities fell into three groups: Teaching and Learning; Technology; and Achieving Equity.
Assistant Superintendent of School Improvement Dr. April Prestipino announced that Teaching and Learning goals include: reviewing the ELA and math curriculums for 7th through 12th grade; introducing studies for a Seal of Bi-Literacy and a Seal of Civic Readiness; developing Multi-Tiered Support Systems for social, emotional, behavioral, and academic needs; “culturally responsive learning”; and preparing teachers, administrators, staff for pursuing these goals.
Under “culturally responsive learning” fell two points: expansion of the AVID program, and “coordinated professional development.”
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a program to help “underachieving students with high academic potential” prepare for college. But when they get to high school, many students drop AVID, observed Board member Lakia Walker.
Students in AVID are often also in upper level classes, and some of these have schedule conflicts with AVID, explained Dr. Prestipino. Therefore, she plans to see about adjusting the schedule.
But Ms. Walker noted that for high school students, AVID is “like another class.”
Technology goals include upgrading 500 Chromebook computers, updating cables and annually reviewing software needs to decide which software to purchase, reported Manager of Instructional Technology Cheryl Rabinowitz.
Equity goals, said Human Resources Manager Rachel Rissetto, include recruiting and retaining “diverse employees,” a comprehensive staffing review, increasing access of “underserved” students to programs that increase opportunities, creating a plan to implement the Diversity Equity Inclusivity program, and language equity.
“A racially diverse staff academically benefits all students,” says the presentation. Steps to improve staff diversity, said Ms. Rissetto, include marketing open positions in various ways, and professional development for stakeholders who sit on committees that interview candidates.
Determining where to increase access, Ms. Rissetto continued, includes “looking at upper-level classes, and if students of color aren’t proportionally represented, we ask why.”
Language equity refers to improving communication with community members with limited English, especially parents and guardians of students. This topic has received attention at recent school board meetings. At the March 1 meeting, Dr. Prestipino noted the several ways the district communicates with families and the different challenges it faces to get each way translated.
Goals for student services, Dr. Prestipino added, based on information from Director of Student Services Kim Lyboldt, include:
• Bringing students who were placed out of the district to fulfill special needs back into the district
• Evaluating pre-schoolers
• Adding a second pre-kindergarten class. Currently the HCSD has one universal pre-kindergarten class and one Questar-targeted pre-kindergarten class. This year there were 40 children on the waiting list for pre-kindergarten, said board member Selha Graham
• Creating an alternate setting for students who are struggling in a traditional high school setting. From 2014 through 2020, they had the Columbia Street Partnership Academy, a/k/a the Warren Street Academy a/k/a The Bridge. It ran such a program and helped students graduate. Now the district is looking for something to replace it.
‘If students of color aren’t proportionally represented, we ask why.’
Human Resources Manager Rachel Rissetto
Hudson City School District
The state will allow the district’s tax levy to increase by up to 2.93% higher than the current year. But Dr. Spindler said that with all the current stresses, the maximum tax levy increase will be lower.
Mr. Boehme reported on two federal grants that the district has received. The grants are $1.8 million from the CRRSA (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation) and $4 million from the American Rescue Plan (ARP).
The district hopes to use the CRRSA funds for, among other things, a literacy coach, a math coach, an additional nurse, a health and safety consultant, the K-6 reading program, and the My Brother’s Keeper program, Mr. Boehme said, adding that the ARP funds might be used for a math resource library, gym repairs, summer school and other improvements.
Also at the meeting:
• Dr. Spindler proposed a course at Hudson High School in Auto Body for Columbia Greene Community College credit
• Dr. Prestipino is working on proposal for two courses: one to prepare for a Seal of Civic Readiness (independent study) and one related to Computer Programming
• The board appointed Rosalie Cornell, Leigh Fisher, and Joanne Lanuto as Dignity Dignity coordinators for the rest of the school year, as called for by the Dignity for All Students Act.
The next meeting of the HCSD Board of Education will take place Tuesday, March 15, at 6 p.m. It will begin with a community budget workshop.