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New state resolution will benefit district taxpayers

Wisconsin Act 25 was passed unanimously at last week's Hudson Board of Education meeting, resulting in an increase of about $49,000 in state aids to Hudson public schools.

The act is designed to address the impact of "negative aids" on district's like Hudson where high property valuation has negatively impacted the amount of state school aids the district gets.

The resolution allows for money from the fund balance to pay the district's debt for the unfunded pension liability with the Wisconsin Retirement System. By passing the resolution, the district can use $182,000 from the general fund to pay down that debt. That $182,000 will then be removed from the equation in the calculation of state aid available to Hudson. The result, according to finance director Arnie Fett, will be an increase of state aid of approximately $49,000.

In other business the board heard a report on the first year of the Freshman Year Initiative, a new class required for all Hudson High School freshman. The class focuses on academics, career and vocational plans, personal and social issues for students beginning their high school experience. HHS Principal Ed Lucas said the class is similar to ones being adopted at schools throughout the area and across the nation.

FYI teacher Canyon Schultz said he believed the class helped this year's freshmen make a smoother transition into high school. He said students are required to put together a portfolio that includes their four-year plan of academic requirements for graduation that also fits with their career or vocational plans. The portfolio goes to the student's counselor for the remainder of their time at HHS.

Schultz said the class includes lots of student participation and discussion and students keep a confidential journal of their experiences and impressions of their first year in high school that are shared only with their teacher.

Several board members questioned Schultz and Lucas as to how they would assess the success of FYI. Both said the initial feedback while anecdotal is positive from students. Lucas cited a recent survey of HHS graduates that indicated they would have liked to have had more help in career planning during their four years. "This course is designed to get that process started."

There are plans to track student progress and performance as this first group of FYI students goes through HHS. Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten said that Lucas, Schultz and curriculum director Sandra Kovatch will prepare a report on how the class will be evaluated and present it to the board at an upcoming meeting.

The board authorized the payment of district bills in the amount of $1,701,179.47.

Administrators and students recognized

Bowen-Eggebraaten noted that the June meeting was the last before the retirement of Fett and personnel director Bob Benoy. She praised both men for their service to the district and the community.

Board president Dan Tjornehoj said, "Both of you have provided a tremendous service to the district. The excellent condition of this district financially, and the caliber of the staff and personnel who run it, can be attributed to them and their excellent work. We thank you."

Present at the meeting was Fett's replacement, Jennifer Ninneman, along with Melissa Gould, who will replace Cathy Shimon as principal of Hudson Prairie Elementary School. Bowen-Eggebraaten also announced that Barbara Rebhuhn has been hired as associate director of student services. She will replace Tom Hellmers, who has accepted another position in the district.

The school board meeting opened with recognition of several students for a variety of accomplishments during the past school year.

First up was Katie Brokaw, who was among the top 10 percent of statewide applicants for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Brokaw, an incoming senior, received a certificate of excellence. She was also recognized as one of the Kohl's Kids Who Care, an award sponsored by U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin. Brokaw is active at HHS in Peer Helpers, Community Action and TATU, Teens against Tobacco Use.

After introducing Brokaw, HHS Principal Ed Lucas went on to tell the board about the school's state champion math league team. The statewide win was the first for the school under the direction of teacher Jon Hilding. Top scorers for the team were Aaron Knefelkamp, Matt Cyrtmus, Braden Studelska and David Malin.

HHS athletes from the golf team along with the boys and girls track teams were also recognized. Those students included golfer Jimmy Hutchins, Wisconsin state 300 hurdles champion Sharyn Dahl and runners Matt Cincotta, John Dolan, Dan Kromer and Neil Skoog.

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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