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Hudson -- Breaking from the traditional public forum platform of years past, Superintendent Phil Herman chose to deliver his 2014 State of the Schools address beginning Feb. 10 via telecasts currently being broadcast on Hudson's HCTV.
The change allows the address to be streamed on both HCTV and the Hudson City Schools website, Herman said.
"The state of the Hudson City Schools is very strong," according to Herman. "Academically, the Hudson schools continue to be one of the leaders in Ohio."
New state report card grading criteria released in August ranks Hudson near the top out of 610 public school districts in Ohio.
"These rankings are definitely scores to celebrate," Herman said.
Herman also stressed that while the state report cards are important, they are "only a snapshot of our student's performance.
"There is much more to academic achievements than the report card can show," Herman added.
Hudson High School offers 22 Advanced Placement courses.
"In 2013 Hudson High School was ranked in the top 1 percent of schools, or 269th out of 2,300 schools in the nation for AP curriculum, by Newsweek Magazine," Herman said. "Last year, 574 students took 1,477 AP exams, with 75 percent scoring a ranking of 3 or higher, earning them college credit for the course."
High school ACT test score have continued to rise, Herman said. About 96 percent of college-bound students take the ACT test with a national mean score of 20.9, he added. The Hudson High School class of 2014 had a mean score of 25.6, he said.
This year 18 students have been invited to take part in the National Merit program, with five being named finalists. The class of 2013 produced 180 honors diploma graduates and accepted $8.2 million in scholarships.
Herman also gave credit to elementary and middle school teachers and staff for helping to prepare students for high school with a "firm educational foundation."
And while academics are important factors in the district, "nurturing the whole child" to prepare them for life after high school is also a priority, Herman said.
Declining enrolment may allow the district to explore school and administrative office alignment in the future, Herman said. Enrolment has decreased from 5,600 students in 2003 to 4,629 this year. The steady decline is expected to continue, he said.
The decline is not due to families moving from Hudson, but an aging population, Herman said. As enrollment declines, the district will look to reduce staff by attrition as staffers retire or resign, Herman said. The 579 total full time equivalent staff members is almost 10 lower than it was in 2009, Herman added.
District goals for the year include increasing technology, continuing the facility study committee and controlling costs, Herman said.
The five-year forecast, approved in 2013, shows a positive unreserved fund balance which means the district should not need to ask the voters for a new operating levy "in the short term," Herman said. The district will continue to monitor factors which could affect operating budgets such as operating costs, economic development in the district and state funding. Earlier this year, the district approved a tax abatement agreement with the Village of Boston Heights which will pay the district $3.5 million over 15 years and pay $500,000 toward the Malson athletic complex.
According to Herman, the success of the schools are due in part from strong community ties, organizations, City Council, the mayor and School Board.
Herman also credited the staff, calling them an "outstanding group" which will continue to develop the "entire student" to ensure that the sate of the Hudson Schools remain strong.
Herman and a panel made up of Assistant Superintendent Doreen Osmun, Treasurer Kathryn Sines and Director of Pupil Services Kelly Kempf answered a variety of questions submitted by community organizations.
Questions included disaster training in the case of a school shooting or disaster, monitoring of school fees, real estate revenue, enrollment and special educations funding.
The entire broadcast can be viewed on the HCTV website or on the district's website at www.hudson.edu.
Superintendent Herman is a good man. Much more approachable and open than the last guy.