Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Word from the HCSD Superintendent

This afternoon, Dr. Juliette Pennyman, who officially began her role as superintendent of the Hudson City School District on September 1, 2023, distributed the following "Guest Column," assessing her first year as superintendent of the Hudson City School District. The text of the "Guest Column" is reproduced below. 

Pennyman’s First Year as Hudson Schools Superintendent Marked by Innovation, Successes, and Seeding the Future

When I started learning about the Hudson City School District before arriving in September 2023, I was impressed by our students’ abundant achievements every day. I also recognized the vast potential to advance educational excellence that preps students for careers, college, and life through transformative, innovative approaches.
My first year as your superintendent has been focused on just that. This journey has been an enjoyable whirlwind of activity–and incredibly inspiring.
Every school district decision has been focused on providing each student with an engaging, rigorous, and supportive education to help them succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. As I settled in, I saw the opportunity to introduce #HudsonTogetherWeCan, a hashtag/motto designed to inspire a culture of accomplishment via collaboration among schools, district leadership, students, faculty, staff, and the community. My early observations also inspired my 125-Day Plan, a blueprint of actions and plans detailed here:
Our diverse student population is an asset to celebrate, and we are committed to fostering a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment. We strengthened this tenet by launching our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness Community Team, now devising programs and services that embrace our district’s unique backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives.
We are especially proud that we safeguard tax dollars. Our 2024-2025 budget, overwhelmingly approved by voters on May 21, is a result of partnering with elected representatives to advocate for state aid that, after a predicted $2.9 million reduction, now actually slightly increases that aid above the current year’s amount. In addition, the budget’s tax levy increase–the tax levy is the amount collected via property taxes–is 2%, less than the 3.42% permitted under New York State’s tax cap.
To further ease taxpayers’ burden, we prioritized securing highly competitive grants–including $5.5 million over five years for the Learning and Enrichment Afterschool Program Supports (LEAPS) program and nearly $3 million from New York State. The state grants include $1.9 million to support safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for students and $200,000 to expand pre-kindergarten. In addition, $5,000 is being received from the American Farmland Trust’s project, Farm to Institution New York State. The district also joined Verizon Innovative Learning, which provides Chromebooks, enhanced internet and technology coaches to Hudson Junior and Senior High Schools at no cost to the district to leverage technology as a teaching tool.
I also have focused on strengthening our district’s infrastructure. This has included hiring teachers across the district, including for science, graphic arts, and robust electives, as well as assistant principal and technology instructional coaches.
Other initiatives include:
  • Revamping Bluehawk Academy into a more innovative school, focusing on personal support to achieve educational excellence.
  • Refreshing the student Code of Conduct. 
  • Reinstating clubs and organizations such as the Student Council and the Parent Teachers’ Association at Hudson Junior High School.
  • Focusing on school safety by introducing STOPit Solutions’ anonymous reporting capabilities to bolster school health and safety, and receiving top-level recognition by Utica National Insurance as a “School Safety Excellence” award recipient.
  • Converting the high school football program to a modified version to overcome a lack of eligible players.
I also directed that our district ramp up communications to advance transparency. I established Pennyman’s Pen, a concise enewsletter, and oversaw the expansion of our monthly district newsletter. I also inaugurated monthly Conversations with the Superintendent public forums, created Student Advisory Committees, shadowed classrooms, and attended numerous sports, arts, and community events. We also installed monitors in our schools to provide news, information, and lunch menus.
Through it all, we have kept a focus on the future. We are now embarking on a strategic planning process, which will be unveiled in late June. This will include abundant community involvement, and our goal is to finalize this plan next autumn.
I extend gratitude to the Board of Education and our schools’ dedicated leadership teams, teachers, staff, students, families, and community members for partnering with me to support students’ success.
Congratulations to all, especially our graduating seniors, on a dynamic school year! Have a safe, enjoyable summer and we look forward to the start of the 2024-2025 school year on Wednesday, Sept. 4!
Dr. Juliette Pennyman 

Gossips cannot resist reminding readers that the $56.6 million budget for the 2024-2025 school year was approved by a vote of 464 to 231. Only 695 people bothered to show up to vote. It seems a bit of an overstatement to say that the budget was "overwhelmingly approved by voters."


  1. Hope she doesn’t hurt her arm patting herself on the back.

  2. I have not had the opportunity to meet Dr. Pennyman but I truly wish her all the best. We are failing our kids miserably and they need our help.
    I would respectfully disagree that the budget was approved "overwhelmingly" rather the degree of voter apathy is indicative of deeper problems. I would also argue that money is not the problem. The lack of leadership is the issue.
    Our children need to be able to learn in a safe environment. I don't think that a school where students need a faculty escort to use the restroom can be considered a safe environment. The news of violence in the schools and law enforcement being called routinely is disturbing. The reality is that some students are not there to learn and are causing chaos that diminishes everyone elses ability to learn. This must be addressed. Those that can't meet the standards of student conduct need to be expelled.
    Standards in general need to be enforced. Start with the little things, hats indoors, cell phones in school, chewing gum, respecting teachers and staff.
    The most troubling of Dr. Pennyman's self proclaimed "successes" is the "Seeding the Future". The current students have had an unbeleivable amount to deal with, the most upsetting issue being the pandemic. The future is NOW! These students do not get a second bite at the apple and we need to address our school failures with a vigorous sense of urgency.
    Our kids deserve better.
    Charlie Millar HHS '79