Monday, November 28, 2011

From the Board Table: Senator Danielson Attends November 21 Board Meeting

We had a very productive meeting last week!  I think sometimes a perception exists that school boards are rubber stamps that merely provide the imprimatur of the superintendent's recommendation.  That could not be further from the truth for our school board!  The Hudson school board is thoughtful in their deliberations and thinks on their own.  They ask excellent questions and work hard to make the best decision for the school district.  My role is to make recommendations, answer questions, guide them in their decision making, and execute their wishes.  Because of this, we enjoy meetings that are rich with debate and discussion!  Rarely do our meetings last less than 90 minutes, and typically go between two and three hours (sometimes even longer)!

The Board was very pleased to have in attendance Senator Jeff Danielson, who addressed us on the status of the state budget.  He also provided his thoughts and insight into the Education Blueprint and predictions for the upcoming session.  I was happy that Senator Danielson took time out of his schedule to be with us the entire meeting.  He participated fully in the meeting and answered questions where appropriate.  I can say that the Senator is very receptive to our thoughts and ideas.  I very much look forward to working closely with him during the upcoming session!

Action was taken on a variety of building and grounds issues, and an update to the facilities plan through the 2014-2015 school year was shared.  If you have any questions on this plan or would like to see it, please give me a call!

Several policies were up for review or adoption, and I would just like to mention a couple here that you may be interested in hearing about.  First is the Student Permit Policy (Board Policy Code No. 502.10E1).  We have many students who have not yet earned a drivers license who are eligible for a school permit to drive to and from school and school related activities.  A new requirement was adopted into this policy requiring these students to complete the 8th grade before being issued a school permit.

The other policy that I wanted to mention is the Retirement Incentive Policy (Board Policy Code No. 402.6).  This policy provides financial incentive for employees to retire before they reach the normal retirement age.  You may be wondering why we would do something like this when the district is experiencing financial stress.  First, retirement incentive is paid through a separate funding source, so it has little bearing on the General Fund (which is where our challenge is right now).  So this is a way to reduce the those expenditures.  It is likely the Board will consider staff reductions this spring, but if some of our employees who are eligible for retirement take advantage of this incentive, it would provide a way to achieve some of these reductions through attrition.  Indeed this is a double edged sword for the district.  On one hand we stand to lose quality employees who bring a plethora of real world experience and expertise to the classroom.  On the other hand, we can hire a replacement teacher at a fraction of the cost.

Perhaps one of the most important decisions the Board made was a resolution to continue funding the At-Risk/Dropout Prevention program.  Mr. Lipinski addressed the Board during the meeting and shared with them numerous data to show the effect this programing has had on our school district in terms of preventing dropouts, decreasing failure rates, and an improved student culture.  It is worthy to note that the success of our program has been observed throughout the state.  Often times, Mr. Lipinski is asked to consult with other school districts who are in the process of setting up their own programs, and look to our school district in an effort to emulate what we are doing here at Hudson!

For a full accounting of all the action taken at the Board meeting on November 21st, please refer to our meeting minutes which are published in the Hudson Herald.  If you have specific questions about any Board action, please feel free to give me a call.

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