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Hudson principals upbeat about year ahead

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HUDSON–Retirements, reports by principals and plans for capital construction highlighted the Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting Monday, September 14.

Board Clerk Frieda Van Deusen and secretary to Business Executive Robert Yusko, plans to retire on October 30, the board announced, offering thanks her for over 30 years of service.

“I’ve enjoyed the job,” Ms. Van Deusen said. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work in the Hudson City School District,” she added later. “I have been blessed to have good friends there and share good times.”

Ms. Van Deusen started working for the district as a library aid, left to raise a family and work elsewhere, and returned to the district in 1985. Ms. Van Deusen said she plans to relax, pursue hobbies, spend time with her already-retired husband, and see her children and grandchildren more frequently.

The process of finding a replacement for Ms. Van Deusen is underway.

Also planning to retire on October 30 is Mary Jane Ames, secretary to Coordinator of School Improvement April Prestipino. She has served the district at least 23 years. The Personnel Agenda said her replacement will be Theresa Hayes.

Board President Maria McLaughlin announced that the board accepted the retirements “with regret.” Superintendent Maria Suttmeier said she had enjoyed working with them.

The principals of all four of the district’s buildings attended the September 14 board meeting, the first one since schools opened last week. Steven Spicer, principal of John L. Edwards Primary School (pre-K through 2nd grade) said that “thanks to support from the board and the superintendent,” the school has a new lunch schedule that will allow children to spend recess playing in the gym during inclement weather. He also announced that all grades in the school will follow the same nine-period schedule.

One goal is to improve math test scores. Mark Brenneman, principal of Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School (3rd through 6th grades) said that a math coach from BOCES will go into “every classroom” weekly. Derek Reardon, principal of Hudson Junior High School (7th and 8th), announced the intention to “integrate math more in all classes.”

Antonio Abitabile, Hudson High School principal, acknowledged that including math applications could be a challenge in some subjects, such as English. “Right now,” he said, “our students are at a point where they aren’t even attempting math problems. If they see a word problem with six lines, they’ll skip it.” But he expressed hope that “stoking perseverance and curiosity” in any class would help a student with math.

Mr. Abitabile and Mr. Reardon also said their schools are tracking all absent students, finding out where they are and when they plan to return to school. Their staff, Mr. Abitabile said, was willing to knock on doors, but usually they got the information they needed by telephone.

Mr. Abitabile also announced that this year more 10th graders are “true 10th graders,” taking all 10th grade classes rather than a mixture of 10th and 9th grade classes. And all 128 freshmen are slated to attend Power of Peace workshops starting next month.

The district is designing a capital construction plan, which will include roof upgrades, a soccer field and an athletic track. At the meeting, two representatives of Bernard P. Donegan, Inc., a financial consulting firm, presented what the program would involve. The first step would be for voters to approve the project and its financing in a referendum. From the time the referendum passes until the first construction begins would take about 18 months, during which the district would solicit bids from contractors. If the referendum passed in January 2016, the Donegan representatives estimated, construction could start in 2017 and finish in 2020.

Also at the meeting, Superintendent Suttmeier announced that two District pupils had been in a serious accident in Kinderhook Sunday, September 13. The victims are in Albany Medical Center. People wishing to help the stricken families can bring monetary donations to the Intermediate School, 102 Harry Howard Avenue.

The week of September 21 is full of opportunities for pupils’ families to visit the schools. Mr. Spicer announced that the Primary School will hold Grandparents Days: Tuesday, September 22, for pre-k and kindergarten; Wednesday, September 23, for 1st grade; and Thursday, September 24, for 2nd grade. On September 24, the Primary School will also hold an open house.

Mr. Brenneman announced that on September 22, the Intermediate School will hold a Dads Bring Your Kids to School day.

The next School Board meeting will take place Monday, September 28 at 7 p.m. at the High School library. A Community Conversation for District residents will take place October 1.

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