Thank you to our bus drivers at Safe Way for their generous donations to families who are homeless or in need within our Hudson Schools! This year Safe Way filled 31 gift boxes! Boxes included toys for little ones, throw blankets, Raider apparel, basic necessities (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc.), gift cards to area businesses, and many other items for families. This is the 6th year Safe Way drivers have adopted Hudson families. Our Safe Way partners are an amazing caring crew!!
The Education Foundation of Hudson awarded Star Grants in December for innovative classroom projects and curriculum training. The foundation awarded grants totaling over $15,000 for seven projects involving several educators and touching many schools in Hudson.
Foundation Board President Lynn Krueger, and other board members, presented the awards during ceremonies at Hudson High School on December 8. He told recipients that the foundation and community are proud of the educators’ efforts to bring innovative ideas to the classrooms of local schools.
The foundation is funded by private donations, mostly coming from local and area businesses, individuals, and foundations. Star Grants offer financial support for innovative classroom projects and also projects furthering the education of teachers — all items that would not typically be funded in the normal budgeting process. The foundation awards Star Grants twice each year. Application deadlines are November 1 and April 1. The foundation also selects winners of the Star Excellence Award each year. The award is presented to outstanding educators in the spring. Those individuals are nominated by the public and nominations are due April 1 of each year.
The foundation, founded in 1990, is a private organization established to strengthen community participation in local schools and inspire both teachers and students. With this recent distribution of grants ($15,522), the foundation has funded just under $2,000,000 in local education projects and awards since the organization’s inception.
Start Grant Recipients
- Test Drive Personal Finance Reality Fair Simulation submitted by Trevor Verdon from Hudson High School. The day-long fair will involve 80 community volunteers at 22 stations. Students will visit stations and simulate adult monthly expenses, debts and purchases based on career choices and potential income. The fair will help students learn to manage a monthly budget in the future. The foundation awarded $1,024.00.
- Core Word and AAC Supported Communication through the use of books submitted by Marcia Krier and Kelsey Osten from North Hudson Elementary School. The proposal is intended to increase the level of participation for learners who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. Augmentative is a strategy/tool that supports speech. Alternative is a strategy/tool that is used instead of speech. The foundation awarded $1,000.00.
- Celebration of Nations submitted by Samantha Thrane and Melissa Miller for a community-wide event. The day-long celebration is scheduled March 9, 2023 at Hudson High School. It is intended to share information about the many different cultures in the community. The event will include the sharing of information through displays, personal stories/information, entertainment, food and local businesses. The foundation awarded $2,500.00.
- Imagine Learning Language and Literacy submitted by Liz Halama from EP Rock Elementary School. The goal of this special education project is to increase academic vocabulary and reading proficiency with the purchase of the Imagine Learning Language and Literacy program/license. The program engages students in phonics and sight-word practice, oral reading fluency, academic vocabulary comprehension and grammar. The foundation awarded $1,500.
- National Retail Foundation – Rise Up Certification submitted by Carrie Hentz from Hudson High School. The program provides an opportunity for business students enrolled in the Raider School Store to earn retail industry recognized certification through the National Retail Foundation. The certificate can be added to the students’ resume and job applications. The foundation awarded $5,000.
- Get Your Wiggles Out – Kindergarten Flexible Seating submitted by Lora Bovy from Houlton Elementary School. The program involves the purchase of several different seating options and tables. It will help students increase focus abilities. The foundation awarded $1,000.00
- Building Strong Decoders and Life Long Readers submitted by Jenna Weiland for a district-wide elementary focus. The program involves purchasing books that have decodable, phonics skill-specific texts. They will be used in grades Kindergarten through fifth at all six elementary schools. The foundation awarded $3,498.00.
In addition to Krueger, current foundation board members are Dr. Ron Bernth, Jodell Krause, Doug Stohlberg, Marian Schultz, Joan Thompson, John Kromer, Heidi Gilbert, and Scott Snyder. Steven Keller is the organization’s volunteer executive director.
Long-term Facility Maintenance and Operational Budget Remain A Challenge
On November 1, 2022, the Board of Education hosted a community meeting to seek input on Elementary Facilities Planning. Approximately three hundred (300) community members came to learn about potential options and financial considerations. The community was presented with ten (10) long-term facility maintenance options. These options included variations of maintaining all six elementary schools, closing two elementary schools, and reconfiguring grade levels that moved 5th grade to the Middle School and 8th grade to the High School.
Based on community feedback, the Board of Education decided they would not close any elementary schools at this time. Many in the community believed additional time was needed to see if the enrollment projections presented by UW-Madison Applied Population Laboratory would continue to trend downward. For many years, it has been the experience of the Hudson School District to have growing student enrollment. It is a significant shift in thinking to see the enrollment numbers trending down or, at best, holding steady. The combination of declining student enrollment, capital maintenance needs, and state aid that has not kept up with inflation has forced the Board of Education to discuss a potential capital and recurring operational levy increase referendum.
The School District has worked with Baird financial services to review budget projections based on enrollment and general assumptions related to various state aid scenarios. Depending on these general assumptions, the School District would likely see a budget deficit ranging from $2.6 million – $3.6 million in 2023-2024. Extending these assumptions to 2026-2027, the School District could face a budget shortage as high as $9.4 million.
The challenge of long-term maintenance needs, operational budget shortfalls, and declining student enrollment are not unique to Hudson. That said, Hudson is uniquely positioned to address this challenge with its strong financial footing. Unlike some school districts that need to rely on short-term borrowing or who have no room left other than to cut staff and programs, Hudson is financially secure. We will continue to engage the community in planning the next steps. The Board of Education will need to decide before the end of January 2023 if they plan to bring an operational levy increase and or capital maintenance referendum vote to the community on April 4, 2023. You can follow the Board’s discussions on long-term maintenance by clicking on the ELEMENTARY FACILITIES tab on our School District website, hudsonraiders.org.
As we close out the calendar year and head into Winter Break, I wish you peace, wonder, and joy. Take time to slow down and create memories with family and friends.
Nick Ouellette, PhD