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Hudson: Summer school’s no longer easy way out


HUDSON–Changes in calculating grades for students who attend summer school, an update on the Bridge alternate high school program and recognition of specific Intermediate School students highlighted the Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting Monday, January 27.

Currently, if a student retakes a course in summer after failing that course in the regular school year, the student’s official grade for the course becomes the higher of two grades the one obtained in the regular school session and the one obtained in summer. But at the request of High School Principal Antonio Abitabile, the board heard a proposal that the official grade instead become the average of the two grades.

Board Member Jeri Chapman explained that with the current policy, students can slack off during the regular school year and save their learning for a short-duration summer course–with condensed content presented by teachers not subject to the same standards as teachers during the regular school year, according to Ms. Chapman. The proposed grading policy change would is intended to help students appreciate the importance of learning and studying during the regular school year. Ms. Chapman said Mr. Abitabile would like to see the new policy in effect for this coming summer.

The proposed new policy was read for the first time by Ms. Chapman at Monday’s meeting. It needs to be read a second time at a subsequent board meeting before it can become official policy.

Preparations continue for opening the Bridge Academy with its Alternate Transition Program (ATP) on February 3. The ATP will serve 16- and 17-year-olds who need an alternate path to high school graduation. It will be offered at 360 Warren Street on the corner of North Fourth Street in Hudson’s business district.

Superintendent Maria Suttmeier said of the preparations, “They’re moving the furniture” into the Warren Street site. As of Monday, 21 Hudson students had confirmed enrollment in the ATP.

The Bridge Academy will also serve ATP students from Catskill as well as special education students who currently attend the Berkshire Union Free School in Canaan. The teachers will come from Berkshire Union.

“When can we go in?” Board member Joe Carr asked.

Ms. Suttmeier said that could happen when the district receives a certificate of occupancy for the building. She added that there will be a ribbon cutting and open house on an evening to be announced.

In other business, former school board President Peter Merante, representing the Elks Club, attended the meeting to present and congratulate student winners of the Elks Drug Awareness Contest. For 3rd and 4th grade posters, first prize went to Alyssa Proper, second prize to Airin McClain, third prize to Carlos Chavala. For fifth and sixth grade essays, first prize went to Brock Saunders, second prize to Valerie Steils, third prize to Giovanna Chiarito, and honorable mention to Zyazia Chan, Lili Bargolowski, and Analise Cruz.

In addition, 5th graders presented computer slide shows they had made about specific countries that will participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. For each country, the show mentioned both geographic facts and athletic history. Brock Saunders and Noshin Tasnim presented Finland, Jason Hughes and Matthew Gower presented Australia, and Emma Johnson and Neil Mingua presented Japan.

Also at the meeting:

Board member Tiffany Hamilton said that people are concerned about the demographic composition of the faculty contrasting with that of the students. The children “don’t have a positive role model.” In response, Superintendent Suttmeier said that the only thing the district could do at this time is to ask recruiters and headhunters to “cast our net more broadly.”

Board member David Kisselburgh, speaking on behalf of the Facilities Committee, said that “after school and after hours activities are increasing.” Therefore, he said, “We might need extra help, especially with clean-up” after hours.

Ms. Suttmeier said the district is in dialogue with the Columbia County Department of Social Services in an effort to harmonize the services provided to children and youths served by both institutions. One topic of concern is children in foster care. If they are placed out of the district, they “lose the support” the district provides them, Ms. Suttmeier said.

Intermediate School Principal Mark Brenneman has joined a Capital District Youth Justice Work Group, Ms. Suttmeier announced. One of its goals is to “keep students in school and out of court.”

The Varsity Club and the Honor Society are joining together for public service events, Student Representative William Glasser reported. He also said that the Student Council will sponsor a hypnotist show, for which the public will be able to buy tickets.

The next Board of Education meeting will be Tuesday, February 10 at the John L. Edwards Primary School on State Street.




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