HUDSON — The Common Council approved Tuesday a request to engage the county in a feasibility study for the possible acquisition and use of John L. Edwards Primary School for combined municipal offices.
The school at 360 State St. is slated to close at the end of the month. Students in kindergarten and first grade will attend school in a new wing of the Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School at 102 Harry Howard Ave. when classes resume in September.
Second grade students were moved to Montgomery C. Smith for the 2017-18 school year.
“I think it would be a great idea to have the county and the city combined at JLE and possibly putting the youth department there as well because we know how that building is deteriorating,” 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga said.
Those in the audience who voiced their opinions supported combining the government offices and moving to a centralized location.
“I just want to thank the council for supporting the John L. Edwards resolution,” 4th Ward Supervisor Linda Mussmann said. “The county has been waiting for you to do this, so now we can proceed with some plan to make something happen. There is a lot of what-ifs, but there are also shared services that we are rewarded for doing. I think there are opportunities that we don’t have any idea that we don’t know can happen”
Former 2nd Ward Supervisor Ed Cross agreed.
“It is good,” Cross said. “It sounds like one-stop shopping.”
In the meantime, Common Council President Thomas DePietro is looking into alternative locations to hold Common Council meetings that have accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act, such as the Hudson Fire Department headquarters on 77 N. Seventh St. or the Hudson Area Library, 51 N. Fifth St.
“I’m just curious if you had inquired, in terms of meetings, of the use of the courts building,” past Common Council president Don Moore said. “When we put that together, one of the discussions that we had with the Office of Courts Administration was using that courtroom for meetings in the evening, because it definitely is accessible and it’s large enough.”
Columbia Opportunities Head Start Program is in search of a new home for two of their Hudson classrooms that had been located at John L. Edwards, Garriga said at the Common Council meeting. Garriga said she would like to see the program continue to operate at the school if the building is taken over by the city and county.
Head Start will be reducing its enrollment temporarily and moving all of the Hudson students to its headquarters at 540 Columbia St. at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
The organization has been searching more than a year for a new location for its program in Hudson, but without success, Columbia Opportunities Executive Director Tina Sharpe said.
“The cost of commercial space in the Hudson area has gotten pretty expensive,” Sharpe said. “We are talking about such old buildings and infrastructure that it makes it far more expensive to bring the buildings up to all of the day care licensing codes required.”
The Head Start program serves children throughout Columbia County and has locations in Hudson, Valatie, Chatham, Philmont and Craryville and typically serves 139 children.
The program in the past had served a total of 72 students in the Hudson City School District, 36 at their 540 Columbia St. location and 36 at John L. Edwards.
With no replacement site located for the primary school classrooms, only two of the four classrooms will open this September in Hudson for a total of 36 students – 18 in each of the two, day-long classes.
Because of limited space, the program which serves eligible 3- and 4-year-olds and their families in the greater area of the Hudson City School District, will not be able to accept new students, Sharpe said. A total of 36 students have already been placed on the program’s waiting list, Sharpe said.
The organization is looking to find a new location so it can bring its numbers back up.
“Head Start is a federally funded program,” Sharpe said. “Our performance is evaluated on our ability and to serve children. If we don’t have adequate facilities to serve all the eligible children in our community we do run the risk of losing funding. The worst possible scenario is that we will lose the eligibility to provide Head Start services altogether. We are working with the Office of Head Start, our community partners and supporters to continue providing the service here in Columbia County.”
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to email@example.com, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.