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Superintendent Views: On-going planning for short,long-term growth

Mary Bowen Eggebraaten, superintendent

Determining a long-term secondary space for learning solution continues to be a top priority for the Board of Education.

Short-term plans have been implemented by the board starting in 2007 when the district administrative offices were moved out of the high school to make room for more classroom space and for the middle school when additional teachers were hired. As these short-term plans have been updated and extended, they have helped maintain a certain level of teaching and learning but they have significant limitations. A plan for the long term is needed now more than ever so that the Hudson secondary schools can continue to provide the high quality of education that our community expects.

While the Board of Education works with our community to determine a long-term secondary space for learning solution, short-term plans need to be extended at the middle and high schools to relieve overcrowding and continue to provide quality learning experiences for all students. At its January 2013 meeting, the board approved the following short-term plan beginning with the 2013-14 school year that was developed with ideas from staff at the middle and high Schools along with school and district administration:

2013-14 Short-Term Plan

--The district's Information Technology (IT) Services, which are currently located at the high school, will be relocated to an alternate leased site. Moving IT will open up two classrooms at the high school which will provide up to 14 additional class sections each day.

--The high school will increase the sections of lunch from three to four. This additional lunch section will reduce the congestion that already exists.

--The media center doors at the high school will be set back from the hallway to help reduce some of the congestion in this area of the school where the hallway moves from a large open area to a significantly more narrow space. Currently the media center doors open out into the hallway which contributes to the congestion.

--As part of the high school's Learning for the Future initiative, Freshman Academies will start in the 2013-14 school year. Freshman Academies are part of a long-term learning initiative, and an added advantage is that they will also reduce hall congestion. Freshmen will have three of their consecutive classes located together. The short-term advantage to academies is a reduction of students moving throughout the full high school campus and eases some of the congestion experienced in other parts of the building.

--Hudson Middle School will continue scheduling and classroom utilization for 2013-14 at Hudson Prairie and the middle school as they presently are this year. The middle school currently uses three health classrooms, the orchestra classroom, and the gym first hour at Hudson Prairie.

--Student enrollments will be closely monitored throughout the spring and summer.If it is determined that the middle school's student enrollment is higher than projected there may be a need for the middle school to use up to three additional Hudson Prairie classrooms.

--Hudson Prairie would in turn need to implement capping of grade levels to maintain class size guidelines. New students who live in the Hudson Prairie attendance area and enter capped grade levels would be transported to another elementary school where there was space. This is the same plan that exploratory rotations were increased from two to three, spreading the students out over six exploratory classes instead of five and reducing the class size of each of those exploratories.

Limited Construction and Remodeling

Over the past five years a limited amount of construction and remodeling has occurred primarily at the middle school to relieve overcrowding. Throughout the middle school houses, student lockers were added to meet growing enrollments.

The largest construction project was an addition to the middle school of common area space that provided additional shared cafeteria and physical education space, an orchestra classroom, and storage. With the help of community partners, this addition was completed under budget and opened up on time during the school year.

Looking to the Future

The Board of Education will review its short-term plan annually. Adjustments will be made if needed depending on student enrollments. At the same time, the board continues to move forward with researching potential solutions to resolve long-term secondary space for learning needs. Currently the board has identified three solutions for further study:

--Construct a four-year high school; convert the current high school to a grade 7-8 school; and convert the current middle school to a grade 5-6 school.

--Construct a three-year high school; convert the current high school to a grade 8-9 school; and convert the current middle school to a grade 6-7 school.

--Construct a grade 6-12 school for 700 students with a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) focus; the current high school remains grades 9-12; and the current middle school remains a grade 6-8 school.

The Board of Education will provide multiple opportunities for community members to provide feedback to inform their decision-making as they move forward toward a long-term secondary space for learning solution. Follow the work of the board at the district's website and or forward your feedback to board members and administrators at