Tuesday, August 13, 2013

More About "The Bridge"

At the HCSD Board of Education meeting last night, Bruce Potter made a PowerPoint presentation about "The Bridge," a.k.a. the Columbia-Greene Partnership Academy. Some interesting information about the program emerged. The program is based on the work of New Zealand educational researcher John Hattie, author of Visible Learning and Visible Learning for Teachers. professional development coach trained in Visible Learning methodology will be working with the teachers, and those teachers will be "some of the most talented staff" from Berkshire Union Free School. The students in the new program are students from the Hudson City School District and the Catskill Central School District who would otherwise be bused to Canaan for the day program at Berkshire Union Free School. Although the program at Berkshire is only for boys, the program planned for 364 Warren Street will have both male and female students.

A couple of audience members left after Potter's presentation, when they were told they could not ask questions or make comments until the public forum part of the meeting. When it finally came time for the public forum, at 8:45 p.m., most of the members of the public remaining wanted to comment about PINS (person in need of supervision), ask for a re-vote on the code of conduct, or urge that Lorraine Del Vecchio be retained as the coordinator of substitute teachers.

There were, however, some comments and questions during the public forum that elicited new information about the decision to house the "Bridge" program at 364 Warren Street. When an audience member commented that the twenty-six students (the number of HCSD students expected to be in the program) was just "a drop in the bucket" when it came to the total number of students in need of such a program, HCSD superintendent Maria Suttmeier revealed, "We're looking for something larger." Another audience member, concerned that, in the past, ALP students had been promised things they didn't get, wanted to know how the school district was going to "get past the negativity in the community," if a back-up plan was needed, and if the building would be ready by the time school started.

Responding to the last of the three questions, Potter said they had been given "every assurance [by the Galvan Foundation] that the building will be ready." Suttmeier, however, acknowledged that construction has stopped because the project has not been issued a building permit. She went on to say that "the ball was dropped with introducing us to the community," explaining that she had been critically ill during the month of July. She called 364 Warren Street "a temporary stop." "We're not planning to stay there," she said.

Addressing the issue of "negativity," Suttmeier said there were "a lot of misconceptions." She excused her failure to engage the community earlier in the planning process by saying her attention "was on my district and the program." She also indicated that she was "shocked" that the community had reacted as it did. She promised to "try to mend fences" and "help people understand what we are planning to do here" and concluded her comments on the topic by saying, "The decision was made with the students in mind."


  1. Hudson is a very busy place and I couldn't leave my lodging business unattended for 2 hours waiting to ask questions at the end of the meeting. The presentation given was all about the curriculum and high school graduation numbers and success rate from the Berkshire school in Canaan. The Berkshire school has a swimming pool, athletic fields, a theater, a farm. The Hudson location proposed is in a former city jail with zero outdoor area except a small fenced-in area on our main commercial street. How will the lack of daylight and zero physical activity affect our students? Our students deserve a better location.

  2. The cooped up atmosphere of the former jail cannot be helpful to the students, I agree with Windle. They'll be dying to get out and when they do there will be people waiting for them. Whatever is the school district thinking when they have other empty schools available with grounds around them? And furthermore, a former Questar teacher told me there was an alternate learning program at the High School but it was cancelled over a year ago.