Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Master Facility Planning Identifies and Prioritizes Needs

In 2012, the Board of Directors adopted a comprehensive and multi-faceted strategic plan titled Hudson 2020. We are now on the eve of a date and time that seemed so far into the future! For certain a lot has changed in those intervening years. Our financial position is markedly improved, enrollment is on the rise with new housing developments driving growth, and most importantly, many of the recommendations from Hudson 2020 have been implemented. With these changes, new challenges have emerged that require our attention. Over the last several months, a group of community members, parents, teachers, administrators, and board members have been meeting with architects and engineers to consider what our next steps forward might be as we consider and contemplate these new and exciting challenges that are now emerging. At the upcoming June board meeting, the Board of Directors is expected to approve this plan as a 'flexible framework for handling varying levels of future community growth' (p. 2). It is very important to note this master plan is not meant as a definitive project or series of projects to be completed in the near term, but rather to inform a long term vision for the school district. 

At a community stakeholder group meeting held at the end of February, the committee developed and determined a list of priorities. While those priorities are listed on page 30 of the report, the top three included completing deferred maintenance and a refreshed image of district facilities, locker room improvements, and improved security. At the same time, we asked the master plan be developed with an expectation that enrollment will grow to a point where a four section elementary school will, at some point be in our future.

Phase 3 work could include some of what is
described in the schematic above.
In the short term, much of our work will be a continuation of what we started last summer which is the renovation of the elementary attendance center. This summer we are completing what has been commonly referred to as 'Phase 2' and includes the HVAC, windows, lighting and ceiling work. But in addition to this deferred maintenance, we are seriously looking at how improved security, a refreshed image of district facilities and locker room improvements will fit into our next project, which we have termed 'Phase 3'. This project would include a new elementary office with a controlled entrance located on the north end of what is now the 4-5 grade wing of the elementary building, an expansion and remodeling of the middle school commons, renovations of the media center, remodeling of the locker rooms directly across from the competition gym, and replacing all the entrances at each attendance center with key fob access for improved security.

A long term plan may include the construction of a junior high
building that connects the elementary and
high school buildings together.
But to complete this next phase of work and consider future projects will require a change to our financing strategy. In the past, the board has operated under a philosophy of 'pay as you go', meaning that design, size, and execution of a project was completely dependent on having cash on hand in order to complete the project. That strategy has served us well, but we have reached a point where it no longer makes financial or practical sense to continue in this manner. As a simple example, the project we are currently contemplating (Phase 3) is between $4-$5 Million. It would take between 8-10 years to accumulate the cash needed to execute on this project. Furthermore, this doesn't consider the rising cost of construction, which historically increases between 4-5% annually.

Instead, a financing structure that utilizes revenue bonds seems to make a lot mores sense, particularly since it has a historic interest rate of 2-3% for schools. In this case, it would seem to make much more economic sense to utilize a revenue bond instead of the pay as you go strategy. That is what the board is currently contemplating and will take up at their June 18th board meeting. It is also very important to remember, a revenue bond is not a property tax increase. A revenue bond for the school district is simply a financing mechanism where we leverage our future sales tax revenue. This is commonly referred to as a TARB (Tax Anticipated Revenue Bond). Aside from the fact there are no property tax implications, the other upside is this enables our district to  meet an immediate need while at the same time preparing for growth. We'll talk more about our plans for future growth and what that means for our district in a future post. For a preview, I would encourage you to take a look at our master plan.

In the interim, if you have questions, comments, concerns, or even other ideas: please reach out to your board members or myself. While the ideas discussed in this master plan are conceptual and would require a lot of community engagement and input, at a minimum they provide us with a framework from which to begin a conversation. This is a very exciting time to be a Pirate.







Monday, May 21, 2018

Superintendent's Message to the Class of 2018: Band-Aids and Gold Stars

Good afternoon Class of 2018! Along with the Board of Directors; I would like to congratulate you. Parents, grandparents and other distinguished guests, welcome to the Hudson Community School District. This is a very exciting day for our seniors. This annual rite of passage known as commencement is one that we are honored to celebrate with these students as they look back with finality on these formative years; and look forward to a future that is yet to be written.

Students: In a little less than an hour from now you will exit this gymnasium as graduates of Hudson High School, thus earning the title of alumni. Take a moment to look around at those assembled here this afternoon. A lot of people; friends and family alike have taken time out of their lives to be here with you today and to celebrate this awesome achievement. 

The Class of 2018 lines up for their 'This is It' Moment
There certainly has been a lot to celebrate. You have had a remarkable year. The fact is, you have had a distinguished tenure as students at Hudson High School. Without a doubt you have left an indelible mark on this school system that has secured a legacy others will inspire to live up to generations from now. Along the way we have cheered you on. For those who love you most, it has been the thrill of a lifetime to watch you grow, become stronger, self-assured, and confident. Then finally, seeing you reach this day—and hopefully not recognizing this moment in time as the apex of your journey; but the beginning—a benchmark if you will. Nevertheless, I expect there will be tears from many in this room when you cross this stage in a few minutes because albeit the beginning of a new and exciting chapter of your lives it also marks an ending.

At the beginning of this school year I asked our faculty and staff to consider their legacy. I posed this question not as a self-check of personalized vanity but as a reflection on the lasting impressions they have on each of you. My hope is that these impressions and lessons will stick with you for years to come and that you remember fondly these experiences at Hudson High School. 

While the time you have spent here with us will be warmly remembered, what of your legacy beyond Hudson High School? It may be thought provoking to consider the answer to that question from the vantage point of your future. It is both fair and expected that you consider the ‘where you go from here’ question as a short term problem to solve. For example, many of you are thinking about the graduation party you will attend this afternoon. Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that most of you are relatively certain where and how you will spend the next several years. Furthermore, I’ll admittedly concede that you even have thought about your plans following this next brief interlude in your lives. Of this I am convinced, since I enjoyed reading your reflections in the Hudson Herald. What intrigues me most about these ‘words of wisdom’ if you will, is this question posed in these personal narratives: Where do you see yourself in 20 years? Your answers have been both normal and customary: career, family, and a house with a white picket fence enjoying life. However, as my last request to you, I would encourage a more deliberate and reflective response to this question. Don’t worry; this won’t be on the test, because your time for taking tests is over! 

Certainly your answer to this question is both conciliatory and with merit. You have checked all the boxes that will set you on a path of reaching that what we have come to describe as the American Dream. I can promise you: all of us gathered here today have those same hopes and aspirations for you. But what else? Now that you have metaphorically checked all the boxes is there anything further to yearn for? Allow me to pose this to you: Where do you see yourself in 50 years? 

From that perspective those hopes and dreams that you previously worked so hard to achieve would now be 30 years in the rear view mirror. Hopefully with that realization you would come to understand there is much more to life than checking those boxes. Allow me to paint a picture. Consider, for example a scenario where you are sitting in this very gymnasium 50 years from now and your grandson or granddaughter is preparing to cross this stage. Approaching 68 years old, you will be at, or very close to retirement. So perhaps to properly frame the question, it may relevant to think about that future child, that grandson or daughter that is now sitting right here, where you once sat so very long ago. 

To wrap your minds around such a long time span, think about those who are gathered here today for you. Parents. Grandparents. Teachers. Consider anyone really who has nurtured you, put a band aid on your knee when you fell off your bicycle, or stuck the gold star on the refrigerator when you finished cleaning your room. 

Granted, we now have the benefit of hindsight and certainly didn’t have the fortitude or vision to realize so long ago that our future, our 30, 40, or even 50 years ago: Was you. You see, Class of 2018 you are the best version of us. You are our legacy. Our wish was and is that you succeed where we didn’t. That you live in a world that is a little bit kinder, cleaner, and peaceful. 

So when you are sitting out here, in the audience 50 years from now I promise you too will be looking at your own legacy. Those tears that will flow in a few moments are a testament to that.

Congratulations.