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School board votes to refinance district debt, saving $500,000

School Board President Jamie Johnson presented Hudson High School Principal Peg Shoemaker with a certificate of recognition for the participation and achievement of students in advanced placement courses. Wisconsin CESAs named HHS a Level II Advanced Placement Pacesetter School for the 2012-13 school year. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Meg Heaton)

The Hudson Board of Education voted June 10 to take advantage of record low interest rates to refinance district debt one more time.

On the advice of Robert W. Baird & Co., members voted unanimously to refinancing $6.2 million in general obligation bonds. The current interest rate of 3.8 percent would drop to 1.57 percent for a savings of more than $500,000 to district taxpayers.

According to Brian C. Brewer, Baird managing director, it is the district’s sound financial management and current Aa1 Moody’s bond rating that allows for the significant savings.

In other business, the board reviewed 51 open enrollment requests out of the Hudson School district and approved all but one of those requests. It was noted that 56 students requested to leave the district last year but only 24 actually withdrew to attend elsewhere.

The board also approved two agenda items that directly impact district teachers and staff.

The board approved an increase of 5 percent for medical insurance and 2 percent for dental insurance for all district employees. That would bring the medical insurance premium for a family from $1,420 to $1,491 and the dental premium would go from $99 to $101.58. The district is insured by HealthPartners and Delta Dental. The increases will be effective on July 1.

The board also voted to make revisions in the Certifed Staff Handbook and certified staff contracts as they regard resignations. Human Resources Director Andrea Voelker said several resignations and requests to be released from contracts prompted a review of district policy.

The proposed changes were also reviewed and approved by the Teacher Advisory Committee.

Based on the contract year which runs from July 1-June 30, if a teacher does request to be released early from their contract, they will be liable for “Liquidated damages” as follows:

--$500 if the resignation is between June 16 and June 30,

--$750 if they resign between July 1 and July 31,

--$1,500 if the resignation is received on or after Aug. 1.

The new policy does provide for the district, at its discretion, to waive the damages for extenuating circumstance.

The changes will take effect with the 2015-16 teacher contract. The existing policy, which assesses $500 in damages but that has not been collected, will apply to this year’s contract.

The board heard a report from Hudson High School Principal Peg Shoemaker and members of the staff working on High School Learning for the Future, a new initiative aimed at improving and updating how students are served at HHS.

Beginning in the fall students at all four grade levels will have teacher advisors who will follow them throughout their four years at HHS. The school also introduced “Freshman Academy” this year which is designed to enhance supportive relationships with teachers, get students involved and encourage collaboration among teachers to increase attendance, improve grades and decrease discipline issues.

Next fall, the school will introduce two “smaller learning communities,” for sophomores with an interest in either math, engineering or technology or in the healthcare field. About 120 students are enrolled.

For more information about High School Learning for the Future go to the HHS website at and click on Hudson High School.

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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