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Nearing the capital project’s finish line

February 12, 2018 11:38 am Updated: February 12, 2018 11:45 am

It has been two years since voters in the Hudson City School District approved our capital improvement project, and we are proud of our progress up to this point.

I’d like to provide an update on Phase II and what you can expect as we approach the finish line.

As you are aware, last fall, we held a sentimental closing ceremony for Barrett Field followed by a grand opening ceremony to celebrate the completion of our new track and field — the Bluehawk Sports Complex.

The feelings of Bluehawk pride were immense, and we are grateful for the community’s support and participation. The beautiful mountain vista beyond the complex will never get old and we look forward to many events at the Bluehawk Sports Complex in the years to come.

The final stage of the capital project is to complete the transition to a two-campus school district. At a public hearing held Feb. 12, the Board of Education officially adopted the resolution to close the John L. Edwards Primary School (JLE) and relocate pre-K, kindergarten and first grade to the new primary wing at the M.C. Smith School as planned. (There are no set plans for the future of the John L. Edwards school building, but please be assured we will keep the community informed of any updates.)

The merging of the John L. Edwards and the M.C. Smith schools is scheduled to occur in September, at which point the Smith School will become a unified pre-K through fifth grade elementary building.

Construction of the new primary wing is ongoing, but is proceeding on schedule and on budget. We will schedule a tour of these rooms as soon as possible and invite families to visit prior to the start of the next school year.

Principal Mark Brenneman is working on a plan for a student and parent/guardian orientation as he and Smith School staff prepare to welcome pre-K and first graders to the building this fall.

As we prepare for the transition, there are several points of consideration to ensure a smooth process. We are speaking with administrators and staff extensively so we are better able to address aspects of staffing, planning, safety and the logistics of moving pre-K and first grade students and staff to another building.

Staffing considerations for the transition are an important piece in this phase of the project. The amount and types of support staff (e.g., classroom aides, reading specialists, speech therapists, counselors) as well as teachers of special subjects (such as art, library, physical education and music) will remain the same. Our goal is to provide the same resources to staff and students that were available to them at the John L. Edwards school.

To best prepare for the move of pre-K and first grade, the majority of changes to bus routes and procedures took effect in the 2017-18 school year (rather than initiating core transportation changes twice). This year, we worked with the Transportation Department to implement needed changes/improvements (such as additional bus runs, logistical and crowding issues or minor adjustments to arrival/dismissal times).

While we will continue to run bus routes with mixed ages, as they currently operate, we will be closely examining each one individually and making improvements as needed.

Parents or guardians of current John L. Edwards students will have an opportunity to speak directly with school staff about the upcoming transition during the Parent/Teacher Conference Night on March 29 at 5:30 p.m.

We will be available in the John L. Edwards cafetorium during this time and welcome the opportunity to discuss the project and answer any questions families have. We want to keep you informed every step of the way so you know what to expect as the Smith School becomes a pre-K through fifth grade elementary building.

It is an exciting time in the Hudson City School District as we begin to merge two buildings to make one elementary community. There are many components to a successful transition and we are thankful to all who have been involved in this process as the district continues to work toward enhancing the educational experience of all our students.

Dr. Maria Suttmeier is the superintendent of Hudson City Schools.