Hudson schools

HUDSON -- The Hudson School Board met for its regular meeting on Monday, April 12. 

Here’s what to know: 

COVID update

The Hudson School District has seen an uptick in cases, Superintendent Nick Ouellette said, though it is still not comparable to the high numbers of November and December. As of April 12, the district had 11 new positive cases. 

Cases are student-related and mainly have been connected to outside activities, not in-school contact. The district did have an issue with cases spreading at sleepovers, something they’re telling families to refrain from. 

The mask requirement is continuing inside schools. Ouellette said masks have been a strong mitigation factor. The bubble for close contacts has been reduced from six feet to three feet, per CDC guidelines. 

The district is working with St. Croix County to host a vaccine clinic for those 16-plus. Priority will be given to Hudson students, Ouellette said. 

Two prom nights will be held on June 3 and June 4. The dates were selected with consideration to AP testing and graduation time, to lower the chance that students would have to miss those events due to a close contact or positive case. 

Ouellette said the district is aware of a group of parents running a private prom. The district has shared their concerns with them, and recognizes the event could have an impact on the district. 

2021-2022 instruction model gives options

Chief Academic Officer Dave Grambow said the district recognized it needs to continue to make moves to get things back to normal. 

In-person schooling will continue as normal at all levels next year. 

The new school year will continue to offer distance learning options. Teachers will no longer be teaching in two settings.

At the middle and high school level, students will be scheduled through the existing Hudson Virtual Academy. Some classes will be taught by Hudson teachers, and others by the Wisconsin Virtual School teachers. Instruction will be a blend of synchronous and asynchronous. 

An additional support person may be hired to assist with virtual learning at the middle school. 

At the elementary level, the district will hire up to three teachers who will teach only virtual students. Each teacher will have a grade band, such as kindergarten through second grade. Instruction will be a blend of synchronous and asynchronous. The focus will be on the core classes, Grambow said, though there will be some options for classes like music and physical education. 

Families would need to commit to virtual learning for a full grading period, a trimester at the elementary and middle school level and a semester at the high school level. Bringing students in and out of virtual learning is one of the toughest parts of the process, Grambow said.

This instruction plan is part of the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

4K sites and additional care 

The district is looking at adding additional sites for its 4K program. 

Currently the program has one site at Willow River, and works with nine community partners who provide 4K. The majority of the students are at the partner sites. 

Additional sites would include one a.m. section at EP Rock and on p.m. section at either North Hudson or Hudson Prairie. 

The district is also looking at adding wrap care, which is school-aged care in the opposite time frame from the 4K program. That means for an a.m. class, wrap care would be for the p.m. time, while a p.m. class would have wrap care for an a.m. time. The district would need a minimum of 10 students to offer that, and likely would not have enough to offer it at each site. 

The proposed cost for district  wrap care is $24 a day, and $31 if it includes additional before/after school care. The fees fall within the range of community partners, Grambow said.

The district would have less flexibility than community partners, Tracy Habisch-Ahlin said, requiring Monday through Friday rather than allowing a couple days a week.

The district has interest from 95 families. 

The district did hear concerns from community partners about wrap care prices and the number of classes that would be offered. To address these concerns, Grambow said they made sure to keep prices in line with what the community partners offered and reduced the amount of classes that the district would offer. 

School board members expressed concern that the changes could financially impact the district’s community partners. 

Board member Rob Brown said he was surprised the process went from the board asking about potential impact to a proposal to roll it out. He said he was concerned about the timing of looking at this proposal right after signing agreements with community partners. 

Ouellette said the only way to know what interest there is in the additional sites and wrap care is to have a plan of what it will cost, where it will be and what it will look like. The district has been following up with families who expressed interest, Ouellette said, but not actively trying to recruit families. The district also provides the highest reimbursement rate for community partners than any other district in the state, Ouellette said. 

Ouellette said the district could not guarantee there would be no financial impact, but the plan has been adjusted to address partners’ concerns. Grambow said he believed providers felt heard with the adjustments. 

Board member Bob Baumann said while he doesn’t want to take business away from partners, the district’s families are its responsibility and it should be providing the best opportunities to them. 

The board considered moving a decision back to the April 26 meeting, but Grambow said the district could not get a report on what the financial impact would be to partners. Delaying could also put parents in a bind, Ouellette said. 

The board gave consensus for the administration to move forward with developing the plan. 

New schedule planned at high school level

The board heard an update on the planned change to the Hudson High School schedule. The school plans to switch to an eight-period A/B schedule starting in the 2022-2023 school year. 

HHS Principal Michael Ballard said the process for the schedule change started more than five years ago. During that time the district has met with department heads, staff and student council members to gather input. 

With the new schedule, classes will be 86 minutes long with four classes a day. The classes will rotate through A/B classes on different days. 

The schedule provides an opportunity for deeper learning, Ballard said, and greater intervention opportunities for students who are struggling or excelling. 

The greatest challenge will be keeping students engaged, Ballard said. Staff will have to rethink how they deliver instruction and engage students. The school plans to provide staff guidance, support and training to take on the new initiative, Ballard said. 

The next steps will be communicating the plan to all stakeholders. 

This summer the school will run sample schedules to see what it looks like and how it will play with students.  

The district originally planned to begin the schedule last fall, but decided to take it back to committee. At that time, there was some reluctance over the schedule, but Ballard said it has been addressed and most people are ready to embrace it. 

New start, end day for 2021-2022

The board approved changes to the 2021-2022 calendar. The changes are related to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. 

The first day will be Monday, Aug. 30. The final day will be Thursday, June 9.


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