Grant to Hudson schools aims to help keep teachers

HUDSON—Student performance and teacher morale received attention at the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education meetings April 26 and May 3.

The meetings focused mainly on the budget and examples of where the district needs more equitable “inclusivity,” with district Superintendent Lisamarie Spindler observing that interrupted education has for decades been thought of as a problem affecting foreign countries. Now it has also occurred in the US.

But Dr. Spindler said the number one factor for determining whether students will do well in school is the socioeconomic status of their parents. When there is news of a school where students do well despite a high poverty rate, other schools should try to learn and apply what that successful school is doing.

The number two factor is the college education level of the parents, Dr. Spindler continued. In addition, children who come to kindergarten without enough prior “exposure to print” will be behind.

In higher grades, Dr. Spindler suggested that junior high students be offered the option of taking more high school courses. For years eighth graders have been able to “accelerate” in algebra, but Dr. Spindler hopes they will soon also be able to accelerate in Earth science.

Ninth graders, Dr. Spindler continued, will be allowed no study hall, and their curriculum will include lessons in “civic readiness.”

For High School, Dr. Spindler said she also hopes to expand career and technical education options. These include more opportunities in family and consumer science and art. Dr. Prestipino reported she is interviewing teachers for these subjects.

Dr. Spindler also announced that HCSD has received a grant from the non-profit NoVo Foundation for an Education First Teacher Morale and Retention grant. With the $50,000 HCSD will receive it is participating in a study this spring to identify what changes might improve teacher morale and retention. Questions Dr. Spindler presented included: What gives teachers joy? What improves their morale? How can we get them to stay?

The study’s first step was an Equity Interview, reported Assistant Superintendent of School Improvement April Prestipino. Thirty-eight teachers signed up to participate. Their responses showed that many themes were consistent across different schools, Dr. Prestipino reported, adding that now NoVo will “show us how to do a root cause analysis.”

Also at the meetings:

•Dr. Spindler and the board welcomed two new professional employees: Amanda Greene and Michaela Marotta.

Ms. Greene will be associate principal of Hudson Junior High School. She said she began her education career teaching social studies on Long Island. She has a son in 7th grade and a daughter in third grade. “I want to thank the people who interviewed me,” she said. “Education and critical thinking are equalizing factors in a democratic society.”

Ms. Marotta Marotta will be an Elementary School teacher. She graduated from Hudson High School in 2015 and said she really values her education there. “I look forward to working with a great team”

•Jacob Hromada, the student representative to the board, announced: “As a student body we say thank-you to Mr. LaCasse,” for his years of service to the Hudson City School District as principal, assistant principal, sports coach, and teacher. Robert LaCasse, who had been principal of Hudson since 2019 after working for the school district since 1999, resigned effective May 1 to become instructional supervisor for Social Studies and World Languages for the Albany City School District. Ian MacCormack will replace him for the rest of the school year as interim principal. Mr. MacCormack is an associate principal of the Elementary School

•Dr. Prestipino reported that the number of students who opted out of the standard ELA and math assessments was lower than before the Covid pandemic

•Dr. Spindler reported that the district is looking at the possibility of in-district programs for students with some emotional problems for whom no local district has programs

•The Policy Committee has begun considering a policy that would subject marijuana to the same restrictions as tobacco and vaping

•Dr. Spindler said that Chromebook computers are effective but they break down. Therefore, they need a cycle of regular maintenance and replacement.

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