Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Big News of 2017

I have usually avoided a recap of the 'year that was' for fear of forgetting to mention some big news story or event that happened over the course of the last twelve months. But, after pouring through my calendar for 2017 and looking at previous blog articles I will offer this look back with a caveat. It is entirely possible that something significant is not going to be mentioned below, so I propose some audience participation! If you recall something that I have missed or something that I should have otherwise included, please let me know using the 'comments' section. I would love to hear your thoughts and will respond where I can. However, please keep in mind I can't comment on every single news story or event, there just simply isn't room, so I am going for those that I believe to be the most impactful and broad based. Oh, and for the most part, these aren't in any significant order. So here we go!

Most would probably agree the most significant news story to impact not only Hudson schools, but schools around the state was the collective bargaining reform that was passed into law in the middle of February. This bill implemented significant changes to the way in which teachers can negotiate wages and benefits. In the end, it essentially struck most mandatory items of bargaining, leaving only base wages. All other items that were previously deemed mandatory were declared 'illegal' or 'permissive'. The long term impact of this law remains to be seen, but the changes in the law that had been in effect since 1974 were significant. From the time the bill was introduced in the House of Representatives, it went through debate to the governor's desk in about 10 days.

This last year also brought the statewide voluntary preschool to Hudson Schools. Originally enacted over a decade ago statewide, the challenge to bring this program to Hudson can't be overstated! The original legislation only provided a three year window with which to launch the program, and with the window firmly closed, there was no funding mechanism with which to make it happen. Due to a lot of hard work and diligence from our elementary principal, Mr. Schlatter, we were able to remove those barriers one by one! So, this fall we opened our doors to 32 preschool students! Also worthy of note: our program is one of the few in the area to offer door to door transportation to our registered child day care providers! We are really looking forward to seeing this program grow in the coming years.

Graduating Class of 2017
On May 24th we celebrated graduation with the Class of 2017. Boy that seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? This was significant not only for the vast talents and accomplishments of this outstanding group of now alumni, but also for their size. This class represented one of the smaller classes that we have had graduate from Hudson, and one of the smallest we will likely see again for a very long time. While that doesn't in anyway diminish their contributions, it did represent a shift in student population and closed an era of declining enrollment. In my remarks to the graduating class, I reminded them to 'Be kind, compassionate, and generous'. 

Over the summer we completed the largest renovation project in the school district in over a decade with the first phase of the elementary school. Perhaps the biggest priority for the school board with this project was the installation of the ADA accessible ramp on the South end of the entrance to the competition gym. This project set the stage for phase two of the project, which was approved by the school board during the December board meeting. This work is evidence of a school district that is thriving and poised for significant growth, which brings us to our next big news story of the year.

While the long term impact on Hudson schools remains to be seen, all can agree the recent interest in residential development in our community will have a positive impact on the school district. On December 21st, we had the ribbon cutting for the Meadowbrook Condominiums, a series of apartment complexes on Springfield Avenue that, when completed will have approximately 48 units. Ann and I live in the second addition of Upper Ridge Estates, which has 26 residential lots (of which about half are already built), and of course the city council recently approved the preliminary plat for the Twin Oaks development, which will include 73 single family residential lots!

New Hudson Faculty-2017
We would certainly be remiss if we didn't acknowledge the changing demographics of our certified teaching faculty! This August, we welcomed ten new teachers to our ranks. While some were hired to replace retiring faculty, others were hired due to anticipated or realized growth in enrollment. I don't want to single anyone out here, but being able to revitalize our business program after it being dormant for the last several years was a big win for students in the high school. As an added bonus, we are pleased that we will have a permanent replacement for our Family and Consumer Science department, hopefully by the time you read this post!

Finally, I think it is always newsworthy, noteworthy and significant when there is a change in leadership! This past September, long time board member Jerry Griffith retired after serving on the Hudson school board for 11 years. Jerry was the last serving board member still on the board from when I was appointed in May of 2010! Additionally, Director Liz Folladori decided not to run for a second term. That left us with two vacant seats on our five member board, with incumbent Traci Trunck running for (and winning) a second term. After the election, we seated newcomers Brenda Klenk and Matt Sallee.

Well, that is my snapshot of 2017. What do you think? Please let me know what I missed in the comments section below!

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