Proposed Budget Highlights Safety and Student Opportunities
The Hudson City School District proposes a spending plan for the 2019-20 school year that continues to support our Vision 2020 goals to: raise the bar, close the achievement gap, align curriculum and instruction, and promote the social-emotional development of our students.
The $49,792,463 school budget would maintain current staffing and programming, as well as build upon efforts for continuous improvement. The primary goals of the proposed budget are to strengthen academic programs (particularly Math and Science), enhance educational opportunities and support school safety initiatives.
The proposed budget carries a tax levy increase of 2.3 percent, which is below the District’s allowable tax levy limit of 2.5% calculated under New York State’s tax cap guidelines. As a result of staying within the tax cap, qualifying residents would receive a property tax rebate from NYS this fall.
The spending plan is an increase of $972,735 (or 1.99 percent) from the current year’s budget. The increase is largely due to rising costs of health insurance.
Since the majority of the District’s operating costs are related to staff and programs, a careful analysis of staffing and student needs is performed each year.
Similar to last year’s spending plan, the proposed budget focuses on strengthening Math and Science education and school safety. In addition to retiree replacements, a full-time position for Secondary Math (grades 7-12) would be added.
The budget would maintain the School Resource Officer (SRO) at the junior/senior high school who was provided by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office for part of the current school year. The 2019-20 budget would continue this service in addition to the existing SRO at the elementary school provided by the Hudson Police Department. For 2019-20, the District would pay $40,000 each to the City of Hudson and Columbia County for these positions, covering approximately 50% of the average yearly salaries for these city/county employees.
In efforts to expand college- and career-readiness initiatives throughout the District, the proposed budget would continue to support the shift in the District’s mantra, “Destination Graduation to Occupation.” This includes continued investment in career development opportunities and programs.
The budget also aims to grow partnerships with higher education institutions such as SUNY Cobleskill, in order to broaden the college credit opportunities available to high school students.
“This budget is designed to support and strengthen the academic, social and emotional development of all our students,” said Dr. Maria Lagana Suttmeier, Superintendent of Schools. “From a new 2-Year Kindergarten program to more college credit opportunities and building valuable career skills, this budget truly supports every Hudson student along their educational journey.”
The proposed budget also supports students by expanding the professional development offerings available to HCSD staff. In addition to specific subject areas, recent professional development topics focus on building relationships, positive school culture and effectively supporting students impacted by trauma.
On, Tuesday, May 21, the HCSD community will vote on the proposed budget and elect three members to the Board of Education.
Rising Graduation Rate
In 2018, our district graduation rate was 80% and equal to the state average. HCSD has made steady gains recently, improving from a district grad rate below 60% just six years ago.
The building graduation rate for Hudson High School was 87% in 2018. That means 87% of students at HHS who began 9th grade in September 2014 graduated on time in June 2018.
Despite the differences between district and building grad rates, Hudson has made remarkable progress over the years in both categories. School leaders credit the improvements to the entire Bluehawk team and, more importantly, the students themselves and families for supporting their child’s education.
Safety in Our Schools
Providing a safe school environment for students and staff is always a top priority. Since 2005, HCSD has consistently received the Utica National Insurance Group’s “School Safety Excellence Award.” Recipients of this award must meet certain criteria of enhancing overall school safety, including transportation safety, playground safety and bullying prevention programs. Furthermore, of the award program’s three levels—Gold, Platinum and Titanium—80% of the District’s safety awards are Titanium (the top level).
School safety is a continuous effort that remains a priority each year. The proposed budget would continue to support School Gate Guardian, the electronic visitor management system that reviews and tracks all school visitors.
The budget would also maintain the two School Resource Officers (SROs) who support safety initiatives on both campuses five days a week. An officer from the Hudson Police Department and a deputy from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office would continue their assignments in our schools next year. In addition to on-site security, the SROs support the District with the planning and practice of safety drills and serve as educators and mentors for students.
Full STEAM Ahead
Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math (STEAM) education is a fast-growing movement to help prepare our students for jobs of the future.
The proposed budget would sustain STEAM courses for Grades K-12 and continue the Camp Invention program for students entering Grades 1-6. The week-long summer camp allows children to sharpen their 21st century learning skills and experience real-world problem solving, creative thinking, invention and teamwork through several modules inspired by the Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
The general budget helps to offset the Camp Invention registration cost for Hudson families, so that more children have the opportunity to participate and pursue interests in STEAM. For 2019, the District is able to reduce the total registration fee by more than $100 per child. Click here for more information about Camp Invention.
To help all incoming Kindergarten (K) students have the best opportunities for success, starting on their very first day of school, the District is launching a new 2-Year Kindergarten program this September. This innovative program does not require staffing changes and can be implemented with existing staff.
Based on immediate academic and social needs, incoming students will be placed into either a traditional 1-Year Kindergarten (1YK) for students testing ready for Kindergarten or the new 2-Year Kindergarten (2YK) for students who may benefit from extra time to master the traditional curriculum and expectations before entering first grade. Even if they meet the age requirement, some children are not ready for the rigor or high expectations of the traditional K curriculum. It is a full day of instruction that can be a challenging adjustment for some young children. A 2YK program allows some children to learn in an enriching, developmentally appropriate environment that nurtures their growth at a steady pace. In some cases, a child may be recommended for advancement to first grade if they have mastered the K standards after the first year.
“Some districts choose to implement a ‘Pre-First’ program for children who struggle during their Kindergarten year. We want to be proactive rather than reactive,” said Dr. Suttmeier. “We believe the 2YK program is a sensible alternative that allows some children to begin Kindergarten with a structured two-year plan that is designed to move students forward instead of holding them back.”
The research on existing 2YK programs points toward greater success in subsequent years, including more positive attitudes toward school and a greater sense of confidence as students advance.