We did it! We are at the end of the 2020-21 school year, arguably the most challenging school year any of us has experienced in our lifetime. But we did it, and we learned a lot from the challenges.
Despite the uncertainties and obstacles, the Hudson City School District community displayed extraordinary adaptability, perseverance and patience. We are grateful for the support we received from families, community members, staff and students as we navigated uncharted territory. This year was not easy and difficult decisions were made, but our common goal kept us moving forward. We must keep looking ahead and working together to keep students safe and learning through the end of June, during summer school and into next school year.
We thank everyone who voted on the school budget last month. The HCSD is proud of the 2021-22 spending plan and believes it supports the District’s goals while being fiscally responsible for taxpayers. We are thankful for the support as we recommit to the continuous improvement of our school system.
Now, the HCSD is creating a spending plan for $5.9 million in federal funding provided through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Act (CRRSAA). This one-time influx of federal funds includes a list of suggested items on which it can be spent by 2023-24, so the HCSD is looking to support the immediate needs of our students and families and plan for the next three years accordingly.
A survey was recently sent to the HCSD school community to collect input on how to best use the federal funds to support students during the pandemic, and to address the pandemic’s impacts on students, faculty and staff. It can also be accessed on our website at www.hudsoncsd.org/survey-on-how-to-use-federal-funds. Responses will be collected until Sat. June 12 and community input will be used to prioritize the allowable expenditures. The spending plan for ARP and CRRSAA funds will be posted on our website by July 1.
As we prepare to close out the 2020-21 school year, we should briefly reflect on the past year so we can better help our school community move forward. The HCSD worked to ensure equitable access to remote learning resources, including distributing approximately 2,000 Chromebooks and more than 150 mobile hotspots for students and staff to use at home. Still, the fact is that some students thrive in a hybrid or remote learning environment and some students fall behind.
The HCSD is making it a priority to address the impacts of interrupted instruction and learning loss experienced by some students, particularly low income students, children with disabilities, English language learners and students experiencing homelessness. To ensure targeted students will be prepared for the next school year and able to meet grade-level standards, this year’s summer school program will be expanded to include elementary grades. Typically summer school is limited to secondary grades due to insufficient funding, however ARP and CRRSAA funds will allow the HCSD to provide summer remediation to more students, which is especially important this year.
We are looking to the future and will continue to overcome the challenges of the past year as we work to support Hudson students in their academic and social-emotional growth. Perseverance is strong at the HCSD and we will continue adapting our procedures based on what we learned this year and the guidance from state and local health officials.
In closing, we are extremely proud of our 2021 graduates. They are a resilient group of individuals who managed to make the best of their senior year despite the unique circumstances. Their ability to meet all of the graduation requirements while rising above adversity proves that they have what it takes to be successful beyond our walls. Congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2021!
This column by Dr. Maria Lagana Suttmeier, Superintendent of Schools, appeared in the Register-Star newspaper on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.