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District adds close to 100 students

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The Hudson School District enrollment currently sits at 5,460 students. That's an increase of 97 students since September 2009.

The numbers were presented at the October Board of Education meeting on Tuesday. The count is required by the state's Department of Public Instruction and is used to calculate state aids to the district. The number represents a 1.8 percent increase in the student population which stood at 5,363 at the start of school last year.

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Student populations increased at both the elementary and secondary level. The most significant increase was at Hudson Middle School where there are an additional 31 students this year. The school has been over capacity for the last two school years and this year's enrollment of 1,241 puts the school at 116 students over its capacity of 1,125.

The elementary school population rose by 49 students, almost 2 percent more than last year. The largest increase was at Rock School with 33 additional students, followed by Houlton wit 29. None of the six elementary schools is at capacity.

Hudson High School enrollment grew by 17 students to 1,641, about a 1 percent increase over last year. The school is still below its capacity of 1,680. Details of school enrollments can be found in the chart accompanying this story.

Principal concerned

Even before this year's increase, district administration and the school board were concerned about the impact of overcrowding at the Hudson Middle School, the largest middle school in the state.

This year the school has taken over three classrooms in the adjacent Hudson Prairie Elementary. Construction is also underway for an addition that will about double the size of the cafeteria and create additional space for the orchestra program and for some physical education classes.

Principal Dan Koch has already spoken at several school board meetings about his concern that the overcrowding is affecting the "house" concept of the school. Middle school houses divide each of the three grades into smaller groups that share common teachers and a common area for their core classes. Koch said when there aren't enough classrooms for teachers (a dozen are teaching from carts this year) and class sizes continue to grow, the house concept is threatened.

"I have a genuine fear that the concept as we know it is beginning to come apart at the seams, that we may be seeing the demise of the concept we know is the best way to educate students in this age group," said Koch.

Koch said that the school is experiencing increased behavioral issues, nothing major to date. "But when kids are packed in so close and there isn't much elbow room, conflicts happen. Couple that with the fact that the overcrowding means teachers aren't able to reach out and build those important relationships with their students, it just adds to the problem."

Koch credits the commitment of his staff for gains in student learning that the school continues to make despite increased class sizes and overcrowding.

The addition to the middle school is scheduled to be completed by January.

For more information about Hudson School District enrollment go to www.hudson.k12.wi.us or contact district administration at (715) 377-3700.

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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