2015 J234 Staff (2)

Hudson Journalism Students Win State Awards

4 weeks ago, no responses

  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 […]


A Magical Night for Iowa High School Musical Theatre Students

1 month ago, no responses

  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 […]

HEF 2015 group

HEF Honors Scholars from the Class of 2015

1 month ago, no responses

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 […]


Hudson JH Students onto NHD State

1 month ago, no responses

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 […]

high school

Hudson Students Awarded Top Teen Honors

2 months ago, no responses

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 […]


Hudson Schools Celebrates Arbor Day!

2 months ago, no responses

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 […]

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Voss Blog Log

    Education in Iowa Public Schools

    Dr. Anthony D. Voss, Superintendent of Schools

    Today is a milestone for me! When the calendar rolled over this morning I began my 6th year at Hudson! Yep, July 1, 2010 was my first day as Superintendent of the Hudson Community School District. In addition to that, I was starting from scratch because I had never been a superintendent before. I am also not quite sure you all remember this, but all of my experience prior to arriving at Hudson was in the parochial system.

    I can hardly believe so much time has passed. It began with very little ceremony and not quite as I had anticipated. Although it was safe to say I didn't know what to expect, after all I had never been a superintendent before! Admittedly I was pretty naive about my new role and all the responsibility that would come along with it. For starters, the only people who work July in most school districts are the central office staff and custodians. All the principals, teachers, and students were gone. The beginning of this month tends to be pretty quiet, and with the Independence holiday on July 4th, if it works out right the staff can enjoy a long weekend. 

    So as I began that July day in 2010 it was peacefully silent around the office. I had a lot of time alone and took the opportunity to try out the new set keys that had been left on my desk with the departure of my predecessor. Indeed I knew that I had big shoes to fill but felt up to the challenge. The only question was, where do I begin and what should I tackle first? Well, it was apparent that the first thing that had to be tackled was figuring out where everything was. While I was treated to a tour of the district and facilities during the interview, there were other thing on my mind that day than remembering where the restrooms were!

    Those early days were filled with experiences that at the time seemed like major decisions. Today many of those same decisions are no longer considered major, but rather the routine variety of tasks a superintendent performs. I remember a couple brief moments of panic those first weeks: like receiving a bill for over $100,000 to renew our property and casualty insurance; or the second moment of fear: needing to borrow money to meet payroll in September. 

    That large bill for property insurance still comes in early July, but fortunately we are no longer borrowing money to meet payroll obligations. It seems like an eternity ago! I sometimes marvel at all the changes that have occurred in the intervening years. I like to think that we have gotten better in our time together.

    So today as the calendar turns over, I want to take a moment to welcome all the new superintendents in Iowa that are starting their tenure today. The next several weeks may at times seem overwhelming, but be patient with yourselves and take a deep breath. We were all there once.

    Posted: July 1, 2015, 6:41 pm
    I am very happy to see our weight room getting so much use this summer. The other day I stopped by and was impressed to see many of our student athletes working out! It is evident that our coaching staff has instilled a strong work ethic in these young people and convinced them that without practice and training they will ultimately be left behind. Parents deserve some credit too, after all you are supportive of these efforts. It is also not lost on me that your support sometimes includes a stern warning to get out of bed and out the door in the morning!

    Practice is important in all aspects of our young people's development, in the weight room and in the classroom. Often the summer becomes a time to relax and not worry about school, particularly those things that are academic in nature. However, if we spend too much time relaxing and not practicing the academic concepts we have worked on during the school year, it can cause us to go a little bit backward in our learning. As an example, each fall as we get started with the school year a portion of our time is spent in review, catching up from the well documented and studied concept of summer slide. Practice is even more important this year, especially when considering the length of our summer. With the dismissal of school on May 21st, we won't reconvene until August 24th. That is quite a gap in learning!

    Just like our athletes are spending time in the weight room and at open gym(s) this summer practicing and refining their skills, I would invite all our students (and athletes) to make sure that you are exercising your mind as well as your body! You don't want to be left behind on the field of athletic competition, and we don't want you to be left behind in the classroom either. There is perhaps no skill more important for continued practice than reading. In fact, the stakes couldn't be higher! To remind everyone, beginning in 2017 any student that is not a proficient reader by the time they complete the 3rd grade is required by law to be retained or participate in a remedial summer school program. In some cases both may be necessary! While we may agree that this heavy handed approach is misguided, it certainly shines a light on the importance of reading.

    I have long opined the most important skill and concept we teach in elementary school is reading. Think about it for a moment. There is no other content area that has so much devoted instructional time during the course of the school day. The financial resources that we commit to reading not only include instructional material, but personnel as well. We have a teacher on staff specializing in reading instruction and working with struggling readers, as well as a full time instructional coach that focuses on literacy and the implementation of research based instructional strategies that we know will work. Candidates for elementary teaching positions at Hudson Schools are often disqualified if they do not have an endorsement for reading instruction. The fact is, there is no concept or skill that is more important than learning how to read. 

    But just like those skills we have worked so hard to refine in the gym, if we don't practice them we tend to get rusty and lose our edge. I implore you to continue to sharpen and refine those skills this summer! A few suggestions might include taking advantage of the summer reading program at the Hudson Public Library. This summer, they are hosting a reading program titled, "Every Hero Has a Story". If you haven't checked it out yet, I would encourage you to do so! We are also once again hosting the UNI Summer Reading Clinic here at Hudson. A mutually beneficial partnership, the clinic serves as a practicum field experience for pre-service teachers learning how to teach reading, while also providing a valuable tutoring service for our students. 

    There is no doubt that summertime provides a well deserved break from the rigorous academia of the school year. We want all our families to enjoy the summer and have a lot of fun in the sun! But at the same time, please take a little time each day to practice those skills that you worked so hard to develop during the school year. 

    Posted: June 24, 2015, 1:38 am
    Imagine being stranded in the middle of the ocean on a life raft and being thirsty. An hour ago, you drank your last bottle of water. Now what? Although you are surrounded by water you can't drink it. Salt water, as we know is not intended for human consumption and will do absolutely nothing to quench our thirst.

    This seems like an appropriate analogy to describe what are known as categorical funding streams in Iowa schools. Categorical funding streams are designed to be used for specified purposes only, and cannot be used for anything else. Seems like a pretty straightforward reason as to why they exist, right? The trouble is that categorical funding streams can often make it look like funds are available when they are really not. 

    We have many categorical funding streams in schools. Some should sound familiar because we have discussed them before. The most common of these would include our Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and the One Cent Sales Tax (SAVE). These two funds create our capital projects fund and can only be used for projects specific to our buildings and the purchase of equipment. These funds are used to purchase computers, furniture, pay for projects like parking lots, gymnasium renovations, or the football stadium lighting project that will be taking place this summer. This funding stream cannot, for example be used to purchase instructional supplies like books or fund salaries. The Nutrition Fund is another categorical funding stream. As the name implies, these funds can only be used for the purpose of operating our food service program at Hudson Schools. In both of these cases, the categorical funding stream serves an important purpose, ensuring that the money is spent specifically for its intended purpose. So at face value, categorical funding streams would seem to make sense. But that is not always the case and in many instances categorical funds can place unreasonable limitations and restrictions on school districts.

    Contained within our general fund are a whole host of these types of funds that make it difficult to allocate resources where it makes the most sense in schools. One example is federal funds, which include all the title programs and special education. Now to be fair, this can make some sense too because after all, it is important to ensure that title one funding is in fact being used to fund the Title One program. And of course no one would argue that we need to make sure that special education funds are being allocated only to special education programs. 

    But what happens if you fund these programs to the extent that they are required and needed in the district and have funds remaining? While at the same time, another vital program needs additional funding in order to make it function as designed? Well, unfortunately in Iowa schools, those categorical funds have to stay with that category and can't be shifted to another area of the budget. If you have an extra $5,000 in your Title One budget at the end of the year and are short $5,000 in your math program, it would be inappropriate to shift the money from the Title One budget to meet the very real needs of the math program.

    What ends up happening in this case is the money becomes a reserve fund balance that gets carried over to the next fiscal year, to be used for that same purpose. In a lot of examples this has a cumulative effect year over year and school districts can quickly end up with large reserve fund balances that can only be used for purposes that are already funded. 

    It would be helpful if school districts had some additional flexibility in the allocation of funding sources, but I fear we might be going in the opposite direction. The recent end of this legislative session seems to prove my point. A stalemate (that began in January of 2014) on school funding for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 was resolved just over a week ago, and that resolution includes funding with strings attached. You probably remember lines in the sand well: The Iowa House wasn't willing to budge off a proposed increase in State Supplemental Aid (SSA) from 1.25%, while the Iowa Senate was working hard to allocate more resources to Iowa schools.

    Well, the logjam finally broke with an agreement that SSA would in fact be 1.25%. In addition, an agreement was brokered that will provide an additional $55 Million in 'one time' money for Iowa Schools. What this simply means is that this additional infusion of capital will not be included in the state cost per pupil allocation for the Fiscal Year 2017 foundation formula. While not at all an ideal situation, this is not something that is new, the same gimmick was used a couple of years back with a funding algorithm that we referred to as the 2% plus 2%.

    If that's not bad enough, this particular allocation of funding has come with a caveat: it can only be used for instructional expenditures that include textbooks, library books, other instructional materials and equipment used by students, transportation costs, or educational initiatives that increase student achievement in grades PK-12. While that may seem like an exhaustive list, its not--and its not really the point. The more restrictions that are placed on school funding, the harder it is to deploy resources in an efficient and effective manner!

    Posted: June 17, 2015, 12:47 pm