Friday, March 5, 2021

HCSD Returns to In-Person Meetings

On Tuesday, the school board held its second "Community Budget Workshop," and interestingly, while people over 65 are still jockeying to get appointments for the COVID vaccine, people under 65 don't yet qualify to get the vaccine, and Columbia County is still seeing new cases of the virus every day, the Hudson City School District decided it was time to resume in-person meetings. Yesterday, Aliya Schneider had an article about the development in the Register-Star: "Hudson school board resumes in-person meetings." The article reports the reasons given by Dr. Maria Suttmeier, HCSD superintendent, for returning to in-person meetings with no live stream or recording of the meeting. The reasons essentially boil down to this: "The board is not obligated to live-stream the meetings." It does not, however, question why the board chose to do this in the middle of the budget process, giving the impression that the goal was discourage public involvement in what last year was called by one critic "fantasy budgeting." 

The article does touch on the fact that the school board meetings regularly conflict with Hudson Common Council meetings, making it impossible for citizens to attend both meetings. When asked about the scheduling conflict, Mayor Kamal Johnson is quoted as saying, "There's not really too many city officials that get involved with the school district. It's kind of two separate worlds." Two separate worlds, perhaps, but the performance of the school district affects the overall quality of life in Hudson, and the school district's runaway budgets definitely impact Hudson property owners. Johnson did acknowledge that eliminating the meeting overlap could "help close the communication gap with the city and the school" and concluded, "It should be something that's thought about."


  1. Can you get any more wishy-washy, non-committal, vague and unhelpful than "it should be something that's thought about?" What does that even mean besides "it likely won't happen!"?

  2. The Hudson School District has returned to “in-person” meetings before anyone else ever thought it was right or safe is because they don’t want you to show up “in-person” or in any way, shape or form as they get ready to present yet another Pentagon-sized tax request to the taxpayers of Hudson. Anyway, in my 3 years of trying to monitor this Board of Education I know firsthand that no one ever shows up for anything. In the 3 years of doing what I could to hold that Board accountable approximately 12 interested parties, cumulatively, have ever shown up for anything and no one asks questions when they do show up. I have shown up for everything, especially at budget time, primarily ALL ALONE. I say this not to pat myself on the back but to BEG someone in authority in Hudson to join me. Help! Literally, I am begging you to help me keep that budget under control and to help dramatically raise the standard of education for the kids. By any measure the academic standing for the HCSD is a total failure and no one intervenes. There is no better post-pandemic cure for the kids than getting them over-prepared for the tougher world ahead. Things are not gonna be easy. But maybe someone needs to pull the Hudson BOE aside and tell them that.

    And let me just tell you a little more about your tax dollars. In the 3 years that I have been hounding this BOE they have DIRECTLY asked you for roughly $80 million dollars. Yes, that’s US dollars. Annually they ask you DIRECTLY on average for about $25-27 million and they top it up to $52 million from YOUR State and Federal taxes. AND then you add the utility tax they charge you. Suddenly the cookie monster is in charge of your wallet. Your school tax bill locally is the BIGGEST tax bill you will EVER pay in your life. It is about 5 times bigger than your City bill. If you were to focus on what the District is giving you for this money you would not sleep well. Maybe not at all.

    District Superintendent Maria Suttmeier has penned a publicity piece for the Tuesday Register Star that you can find on the District website today. First, they only do publicity when they are about to ask the District for all its spare change. And Ms. Suttmeier repeats only what I said last year in my column on “Fantasy Budgeting.” It took Dr. Suttmeier a year to conclude that things are confusing?? Really? Read my column from last year and compare it word-for-word with what she is now saying. It is the exact same column, save for the byline. The funny thing is she isn’t confused. The HCSD is definitely going to ask you for approximately $26 million, AGAIN! Stand up if you think Hudson taxpayers have a spare $26 million hanging around.

  3. If you have any doubt what this garbage pizza they have made means to the City let me tell you. People outside the city LOVE Hudson, from all corners and all walks of life. They come, visit and immediately look at houses on Zillow. But when it comes down to kids and families, real or hoped for, they Google the district, and immediately start Zillowing for houses in Red Hook and Rhinebeck. So, we have declining enrollment at the schools, declining participation in sports and an academic standing that sits at the bottom 20% of the State and near the very bottom regionally. This is simple math. Our school system is not attracting anyone of any kind. We might have a ton of restaurant reservations but no one is rushing here to enroll their kids in our schools and that hurts all of us. Imagine if the Superintendent of Schools admits in an op-ed this week that she is confused by the funding system……….what does that make you think about how innocent prospective taxpayers reviewing the District feel? Her false admissions are merely a form of begging you to bail her out again.

  4. As for the “in-person” community budget meetings the word laughable comes to mind. I am sure the people of Hudson cannot wait to show up at the school building to attend a Board meeting in person without any assurance that this is the right thing to do. But here they go again being avant-garde. Let’s go “in-person” before someone asks a tough question is what they mean. Trust me. And yes, The March 16 Community Budget meeting is the same day/time as a regular Common Council meeting and the April 20 District Education Plan Presentation overlaps with a CC regular meeting. And the May 18 VOTE on this outrageous budget falls on the same day as a CC meeting. Come on!

    The District budget is more than runaway. It is punitive, befuddling and disgraceful. Even if you disagree with what is going on and want to express yourself you don’t even know who to call. Show up at one their meetings and try. See what goes on and you will lose your mind. This year I am going to issue a report card on their work. Don’t try to study what they do on your own, it will burn your eyes.

    NO EFFORT was made by the HCSD prior to the last “public” meeting to inform the public that they were returning to full “in-person” meetings. It was announced the day after the public meeting. Surprise!

    Again, I beg you to look carefully at what your District is doing and what you are paying for. It is time for an intervention. The District needs to be placed in academic and financial receivership by the taxpayers. Anything less will only encourage them to ask for more money again and again and force Hudson taxpayers to a dramatic tipping point.

  5. The school tax bill i received immediately after the last property assessment was the deciding last straw that convinced me to sell my home/business of 20 years.

    Thank You HSD