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HHS, HMS have plans for overcrowding

The principals of Hudson High School and Hudson Middle School brought the Board of Education up to speed about how they plan to address overcrowding at their respective schools in the upcoming school year.

Both schools are above capacity this year and expect enrollment to increase in the fall of 2013. Principals Laura Love and Dan Koch held meetings with their administrators, teachers and staff to discuss options to address the space shortages that each school continues to experience with a goal of finding an "adequate interim plan" while they wait for a long-term secondary space solution.

Plans for the high school where they expect a minimum of 40 new students next year include:

--relocating the district's information technology services to an alternate site, making two classrooms available for students.

--set back the HHS media center main doorway to reduce hallway congestion in this narrow area.

--increase lunch periods from three to four. Student numbers in current lunch periods are at or approaching the fire limits in the cafeteria at any one time.

--station freshman academies, part of the new secondary organization plan, on the west side of the campus, half of the expected 480 student class in the morning and the other half in the afternoon, to alleviate congestion throughout the campus.

Love said the plan also calls for moving math and language classes to the west campus because they involve a large number of freshmen.

Koch told the board that any current plan "falls short of what we need long-term to preserve the integrity" of the middle school's house concept for learning. That said, he told the board that HMS would "stand pat," continuing to use classroom space and the gym at Hudson Prairie Elementary, three classrooms this year.

They will continue to monitor enrollment which could lead to up to three additional classrooms being borrowed from the adjacent elementary school. It is expected that there will continue to be several "teachers on carts," teachers who do not have a classroom of their own and utilize classrooms that have a period open during the school day.

If necessary, grade levels at Hudson Prairie would be capped at class size guidelines with any new students being assigned to other elementary schools in the district with space available.

Hudson Prairie Principal Susie Prather told the board that the middle school students in her building have behaved well and respectfully and that she expects to continue a cooperative relationship with the middle school while a more long-term solution is sought.

Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten said, "The impact of this will extend to other elementary schools when we cap grades at Hudson Prairie. We believe this solution supports families already at Prairie and provides best education and support for all students."

The financial impact of the short term plans was estimated to be $34,000 for the modification of the media center and the cost to lease space and fiber optic cable for the IT department. He also said that expanding services in the cafeteria including a new cash register and some additional staff would be approximately $8-10,000.

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.

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