HUDSON–The Bridge alternative learning program, a joint educational venture of the Hudson, Catskill and Berkshire Union school districts has been postponed until January 2014.
The decision was announced this week by Hudson City School District Superintendent Maria Suttmeier, who said that though Governor Cuomo has signed state legislation authorizing the program, the facilities for the program at 364 Warren Street, the former headquarters of the Hudson newspaper the Register Star, are not yet ready.
The other factor affecting the start of the program is a ruling by lawyers at the state Education Department that both the Hudson and Catskill districts would need to conduct local referendums allowing voters to approve the districts’ participation in the program. Lawyers for the Hudson district believe the district does have the right to commence the program without voter approval, said Ms. Suttmeier. That issue has yet to be resolved and Catskill faces a slightly different set of questions regarding the need for a referendum.
The superintendent said all three districts had rushed the program to try to have it ready for the opening of the school year, but Ms. Suttmeier said they are now taking a “breather” to be sure the project is ready instead for the second semester, avoiding further disappointments for the 22 Hudson High School students scheduled to participate in the alternative learning program (ALP) and the 7 special needs students from the Hudson district who now attend a day program at the Berkshire Union Free School District in Canaan. The special needs students will attend school at 364 Warren Street, not Canaan, when alternative school opens.
Although the program is delayed, Ms. Suttmeier said the principal of the ALP, Thomas Gavin, will be overseeing the students now attending the regular high school who will be participating in the program in January, making sure they remain in school until the separate building is ready.
Hudson’s participation in the three-district program is funded by a grant from the Galvan Foundation and is not supported by the annual school budget paid for by property taxes.
Ms. Suttmeier said one of the problems the program now faces is that the delay has forced some of the ALP teachers to look for new jobs.