Community Meeting – November 1st
The Board of Education is holding a Community Feedback meeting on Tuesday, November 1st at 6:30 PM. The meeting will be held at Hudson Middle School in the Multi-Purpose Room by the gym.
Over the past two years, the Hudson School District has engaged the community, families, and staff in reviewing and planning our long-term facility needs. After a delay due to the pandemic, a Facilities Task Force began meeting in September 2021. This Task Force was made up of parents, community members, and staff. Their work led to the development of options that were presented to the community through a survey last fall. The survey results did not provide a clear direction to the Board of Education. The Board decided that additional research and planning needed to take place. Of primary concern was elementary enrollment projections.
During this planning, the School District has focused on the three challenges listed below.
Capital Maintenance Needs
The School District has worked to maintain facilities within the constraints of its annual budget. Most school district annual budgets do not provide adequate resources for large capital maintenance projects like heating, air conditioning, roofs, and windows. School districts across the state are experiencing the same capital maintenance challenges as Hudson. Annual public school funding simply does not cover these large expenses.
The School District invests approximately $1.5 million to $2 million annually in capital maintenance projects. This annual allocation, at a minimum, allows us to update one elementary school’s electrical and mechanical systems and not provide capital maintenance at any other school site.
Declining Student Enrollments
At the same time the School District has multiple capital maintenance projects, we are also experiencing declining student enrollments. State aid revenue for the School District is determined by the number of students attending our schools. Fewer students means less revenue for the School District. Even if student enrollment holds steady, state aid per student is not likely to cover expenses at the current inflation rate.
The School District must plan for lower enrollments and reduced state aid to sustain our positive financial standing. Our current budget challenges assume no new K-12 funding in the state biennial budget. Inadequate state funding puts pressure on all aspects of our operating budget. The School District is committed to maintaining academic excellence, adequate resources to met the learning needs of all students, keeping our current class size guidelines, and recruiting and retaining high-quality staff.
As a School District, we strive for the excellence our community expects and our students deserve while being mindful of our taxpayers. Considering the challenges related to capital maintenance, declining student enrollments, and the need for operational efficiencies, the Board of Education is reviewing five (5) potential elementary facility options. The majority of options include closing Houlton and Willow River Elementary Schools. By closing two elementary schools, the School District can assume operational cost savings related to less maintenance and a slight reduction in staff.