School board hears complaints
The Hudson Board of Education met Nov. 9 immediately following a public presentation by the School Facilities Task Force.
The task force detailed enrollment history and projections, as well as space needs in the district from the present through 2015. A separate story on the task force's presentation appears on page 3A in this week's newspaper.
The meeting began with several citizens' requests to speak to the board including comments from Curt Weese, who took issue with board member Dick Muenich regarding property taxes in the school district. Weese disagreed with Muenich's contention from the Oct. 28 board meeting that property taxes in the district were reasonable and cited two cases he knew of where property owners had seen substantial increases in their property taxes.
Also addressing the board were Marion Shaw and William Danielson, who clarified some information he gave at that last meeting. Danielson also requested copies of any 2004 1099 tax forms paid to date. Danielson said he'd received the 1099s for 2003.
The board heard updates on strategic plan priorities. Superintendent Ron Bernth chairs the committee that is examining ways to improve communications between the schools and the community. Objectives of the committee include identifying current communication efforts and their effectiveness, seeking local expertise in guiding and assisting with public information, formulating recommendations for improving communications and ways to evaluate them. Serving on the committee with Bernth is Director of Pupil Services Nancy Sweet, HHS Associate Principal Denny Toll and board members Priscilla Wyeth and Dan Tjornehoj.
Willow River Principal Pat Hodges chairs the committee that will examine and evaluate assessment data as it relates to student learning. Hodges said the committee's tasks include training staff to interpret data, assess students, analyze data and implement a plan to assess progress. Serving on the committee with her is Director of Personnel Bob Benoy, Hudson Prairie Principal Cathy Shimon and Middle School Principal Dan Koch.
North Hudson Principal Anissa Cravens heads the committee whose priority is to maintain the current class size ranges, which are 18-22 students for kindergarten-grade two and 22-27 students for grades three-12. The goal of the committee is to educate the public on the affect that class size can have on learning and safety in schools. In addition to identifying current class size, the committee is also charged with evaluating physical classroom space in each building, identifying academic initiatives as they relate to class size, reviewing class size history in the district and reviewing literature and research as it relates to class size, learning and school safety. On the committee with Cravens is Middle School Associate Principal Dianne Franklin, teacher Nicole Mueller and HHS Associate Principal Wendy Langer.
The board also approved expenditures of $1,706,741.73. They also approved the appointment of Raymond C. Queener as the elementary parent representative to the district's Technology Council.
The board also acknowledged awards recently received by the staff of the school newspaper, the True Blue Times, and the HHS yearbook staff, including the announcement of Deb Lee as Advisor of the Year. The board also congratulated two athletes, Sharyn Dahl and Megan Anderson, both sophomores who represented HHS at state competition this year.
The board approved the 2004-2005 second semester Youth Options requests. According to a report from Sweet, 11 students are requesting 41 university courses, and six students are requesting technical school courses under the guidelines of the Youth Options program. Sweet said only about 33 percent of the students requesting classes actually take them because of scheduling problems.
The board also passed minor language revisions in board policies relating to school volunteers, and gifts and donations made to the district.
Bernth said the annual report from the district's auditors, Tracey & Thole, was postponed until the December meeting.
Bernth also noted that numbers had been painted at all the exits at Hudson High School in an effort to improve the safety of an evacuation and for emergency-response purposes. The numbers are visible at night.
Nancy Donovan of the board's personnel committee said that preliminary work had begun in the search for a new superintendent. She assured the board that they would all have an active role in seeking Bernth's replacement. The superintendent announced his retirement at the Oct. 28 board meeting.
Meg Heaton can be reached at email@example.com.