The Hudson High School newspaper, The Pirate Press, won 28 awards from the Iowa High School Press Association. Hudson won three award in the Illustration/Art category. An Award of Excellence went to senior Alexis Mosley, 2nd place to 2014 […]
Olivia Griffith, a recent graduate of Hudson High School, has received an award for “Outstanding Achievement in a Leading Role” for her performance as Belle in Hudson High School’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. This honor has […]
On May 6th, at the Senior Awards Assembly, the Hudson Educational Fund awarded 37 scholarships to 31 deserving students for a total of $21,400. Thank you to our generous HEF donors who continue to impact the futures of so many […]
Students from Mr. Haskovec’ Social Studies classroom wrapped their National History Day (NHD) projects with state competition which was held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The 7th and 8th grade were represented by 23 state qualifiers, competing […]
WATERLOO – The 17th Annual Mayors’ Top Teen Awards and Mother Moon Service Scholarships were presented by the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley on Tuesday evening at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center. The awards program, which recognizes outstanding youth […]
Today the 4th Grade TAG students prepared a program for the official Arbor Day celebration. Hudson has been a tree city for over 30 years. The Arbor Day association donates two dollars for every citizen in Hudson For the city of […]
Voss Blog Log
Education in Iowa Public Schools
Dr. Anthony D. Voss, Superintendent of Schools
What's next? Well, the most obvious is increasing class sizes in the elementary and sharing even more positions. Some schools share music and art teachers. I have had several solicitations from neighbors wanting to share these programs over the last couple of years. Any of these actions or those mentioned above will certainly create efficiencies--but very likely at the cost of effectiveness.
We are already on the cusp of a teacher shortage in many areas. Because we are so close to UNI there is a bit of shelter from this shortage. But those Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that we are sharing that were mentioned above? Part of the reason we are sharing them with other districts is because there are no applicants for our positions. Admittedly it is more difficult to fill part time positions, but if teachers are not doing it for the money it shouldn't matter, right?
So I ask again, would you rather we hire the best teacher we can find, or the one that will work for $28,000? As much as teachers love their work, they are going to be smart about it. If they can do the same job at another school district (or another state) and earn more money, they are probably going to do it. We wouldn't blame them. It is called market demand.
With us now looking at less summer in front of us than behind us, I thought it might be kind of fun to give you an update on the status of a few projects we are currently working on and anticipate having finished by the start of the school year. We'll round out this week's blog with plans for this fall as they relate to staffing levels when the students return.
The most striking and visible project that you have probably noticed is the relighting of the football field. This project replaces the old wood poles and light fixtures that been the mainstay of our stadium for decades. You may recall just a few years back the trouble we had with one of the fixtures on the Southeast pole that had a tendency to blink on and off in the middle of football games! A huge upgrade, this will address safety concerns with the high voltage wires that had draped between the poles and ensure a safer way to light the field. In addition, it will even out the light around the field and increase it to IHSAA standards. The lighting on the field was uneven and in some places as low as 7 foot-candles! The standard for Iowa fields is 30! We anticipate this project will be complete by August 7th.
Less noticeable are some of the upgrades that are occurring inside the school. For example, we have begun to shift more attention to the elementary school this summer as well. The big project that is being tackled right now is the renovation of the restrooms in the 5th and 6th grade wing. All the floor, tile, and ceiling is being replaced along with the fixtures in these spaces. The fixtures are all being replaced with new automatic functionality and ventilation. This project should be finished well in advance of the start of the school year.
The question that seems to be on every ones mind when I am out and about is 'What about the hotel property?" Right now the delay has to do with that little brown shed on the property. That shed is a major hub for Mediacom and needs to be moved before our final work can be completed on the site. We have been working with Mediacom for quite awhile now and are very close to having the site vacated. Interestingly, it is not as easy as you might expect when it comes to moving this shed and equipment. Apparently that little shed is a critical piece of infrastructure for Mediacom and serves as a hub for several cell phone towers and carries data for a multi-county area. At this time, Mediacom has moved and run all the new fiber and re-routed traffic away from the property. All that remains is the termination of these communication cables, which need to be precisely timed during an overnight time frame so as to keep the disruption to service at a minimum. We believe that termination will be taking place sometime this month. Once that is finished the final grading work shouldn't take much longer than 2 weeks. We are still hopeful this can be completed by the time school starts!
At the writing of this blog, we have all our hiring completed for the 2015-2016 school year. Right now we have 42 students enrolled for kindergarten, which we will have staffed with two teachers. We will continue to closely monitor this grade level the same as we have each year, and the school board will make a determination at a later date as to whether or not it is necessary to open another section. This will require very careful consideration since the level of school funding for the 2015-2016 school year was not adequate to cover expenses and the one time infusion of Capital that was agreed to by the legislature was subsequently vetoed by Governor Branstad on July 2nd.
In the final analysis, State Supplemental Aid (SSA) was set at 1.25%, which I have shared before equates to $25,895 for Hudson Schools. To remind you all once again, that doesn't begin to cover the increase in costs that we will incur the next fiscal year. The $55 Million in one-time funding would have added another approximate $70,000+ to our general fund. While it would not have covered our expected cost increase it certainly would have helped. For those of you wondering, we expect our increase in expenditures to be somewhere in the vicinity of $250,000 for the next fiscal year.
Indeed this veto is disappointing. For starters, it is contrary to a bi-partisan compromise that was hammered out between Democrats and Republicans. A compromise that took almost a year and a half of negotiations resulting in the legislative session being drug out much longer than it should have. Yes, this question should have been answered well over a year ago. Further, the question of funding for the next fiscal year was not resolved--and by the time the legislature convenes in January they will be a year late on that decision as well. In his veto message the Governor scolded the legislators for not setting SSA for the next fiscal year. I might suggest the Governor use this opportunity to recall the members for a special assembly. It is clear they have not yet finished their work!
Further perplexing in this decision is the fact that the state's economy appears to be in really good shape. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that our state had gross tax collections of $8 Billion for the first time ever. The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) expected growth at 5.5%, when in actuality it ended up closer to 6%. In their article, the WCF Courier shared that the 'better than average growth was fueled by a 5.8% increase in personal income tax collections'. Arguably, if this news came out after the veto, at least the point could have been made it was tied to the previous and more conservative REC estimate. The timing of the news on gross tax collections coupled with this veto really make me question the wisdom of this decision. It is as though these two (very much related variables) were resolved in a vacuum and became the antithesis of one another.
The Governor suggests a pathway to resolution for the perpetual school funding debate: "The key is to grow the Iowa economy and bring more businesses and jobs here, and higher income to the state", he said recently. Perhaps the fact that revenue projections beat the REC estimate by a half percentage point wasn't quite good enough. Then again, maybe that is why we are investing over $100 Million in a fertilizer plant. When all said and done, they estimate the plant will employ about 240 people.
If we want to bring more businesses and high paying jobs to Iowa, we can start by investing in public education. We would also be quick to remember that in most Iowa communities the local school district is the largest employer, and the jobs that the local school district provide are the economic engine that enables those towns to thrive. Just look what happens when a local school district dissolves or closes an attendance center. That battle was waged not too far from here just this year.
So, here is the deal. Instead of a $100 Million investment that will employ 240 people and produce nitrogen fertilizer, how about a $10 Million investment and we'll employ about 100 people. We'll even provide them with a decent middle income wage to raise a family. No, we won't produce nitrogen fertilizer--but we will educate the populace (and do an outstanding job of it, I might add). That is an investment with dividends that will compound for generations to come.