Hudson Could Become District With Two 6-9 Secondary Schools

Two new secondary space solution options discussed by the school board include building one new school and reconfiguring the district from one 6-8 middle school to two 6-9 secondary schools.

Right now, Hudson Middle School is the biggest middle school in Wisconsin in terms of the number of middle-schoolers attending classes in one building. But it might not be that way in the future. Two new options to solve long-term secondary space issues include doing away with the 6-8 middle school concept in favor of two 6-9 secondary schools.

The Hudson School District Board of Education on Tuesday voted 6-1 to add two additional options to research and consider to help solve the district's secondary space issues. Board member Sandy Gehrke cast the lone dissenting vote.

The additional options were presented as Option P(1) and Option P(2):

Option P(1): Construct three-year (10-12) high school
-Convert current middle school and high school to two schools for grades 6-9

Option P(2): Construct new school for grades 6-9
-Convert current high school to three-year (10-12) high school
-Convert current middle school to grades 6-9 

"What I want to emphasize is that when we talk about some additional options for consideration, the administration has no preference on these options," said Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten. "We're looking at identifying an option that our community supports as a long-term solution that certainly supports our program and the vision of the district and moving that forward, and also provides adequate space for learning for our students."

In December, the board voted to move forward with only the following three options from a list of about 15:

Option B: Construct four-year high school 
-Convert current high school to 7-8 school
-Convert current middle school to 5-6 school

Option C: Construct three-year (10-12) high school 
-Convert current high school to 8-9 school
-Convert current middle school to 6-7 school

Option F: Construct 6-12 STEM school for 700 students

District Communications Specialist Tracy Habisch-Ahlin presented research showing that fewer school transitions and larger grade groupings is better for academic learing. Options B and C require that students change schools four times during their K-12 years. The new options require students to change schools only three times.

"Research has shown significant achievement loss in each transition year," Habisch-Ahlin said. "Students spend more of their time and energy learning the culture of the building and less time focused on academic piece."

All five of the options will be explored in further detail and eventually presented for community review.

"Another major question is if something is going to be built, where will it be built?"

The district's property on County Road UU was considered for a secondary school site, but was found to be a very poor site for a large secondary school. Without access to City of Hudson wastewater treatment facilities, it is only suitable for an elementary-size school of about 650 students, according to the superintendent. 

"When the City of Hudson Plan Commission and the city council considered rezoning St. Croix Meadows there were statements that were made about the UU property about creating a special district to bring public utilities to the UU site," Bowen-Eggebraaten said. "We had always talked to the city about annexation, which we did not receive any positive about, but there were some statements about this special water district. To be clear, there were no statements that they would; there were statements that it was possible."

The board discussed whether the district should pursue discussions with the City of Hudson to determine whether it would create a special water district for the UU property before investing district funds in any further studies of that site. The board came to a consensus to bring the issue to the city.

What do you think about the new options for reconfiguring the Hudson School District from one massive 6-8 middle school to two 6-9 secondary schools? Tell us in the comments

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Mike February 13, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Why has the district never talked about simply just adding a few rooms on to the current schools to fill the need. Seems they could be built in a much shorter time than a whole school and much cheaper in these tough times. Maybe later when the economy is better we could build some fancy big high school/sports center.
Micheal Foley February 13, 2013 at 03:50 PM
That was one of the options eliminated. It seems that you can easily add classrooms, but you can't easily make hallways wider or common areas larger.
Concerned Citizen #1 February 13, 2013 at 05:05 PM
"....adding a few rooms on to the current schools"? Huh? Wha? Option B or Option P(1) seem like decent ideas.... Fiscal responsibility people, remember.
bblair February 13, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Adding rooms would not generate enough money for Hoffman. We must support our builder...
yomammy February 13, 2013 at 08:03 PM
ITS FOR THE CHILDREN!!! (liberal rant mode off...)
bblair February 13, 2013 at 09:22 PM
Or the childlike...
Charlotte Ridley February 13, 2013 at 09:39 PM
How about a new high school....move middle scool ages to the HS building. Hudson should look to neighboring school districts for planning guidance as they do not seem to be able to plan for the future effectively.
Vested Interest February 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM
You might want to take a closer look at those neighboring school districts who, as you say, "seem to be able to plan for the future effectively." Their taxes are sky high and their schools are at half capacity and dropping. If this school board and administration had their way, we'd be in the same boat as those surrounding school districts. If you doubt me, just take the assessed value of your home and plug-in the mill rate for New Richmond and River Falls - then tell us it's worth it.
Big Guy February 14, 2013 at 01:18 AM
Vested, Do you think your house would be worth the same value in RF or NR as it is in Hudson? Try again buddy.
Vested Interest February 14, 2013 at 01:32 AM
Big Guy - do you know or understand the meaning of "assessed value?" Yes - my house would be valued the same.
JMK February 14, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Before moving forward on any option, the public should be given a ball park estimate on the construction and staffing costs associated with each one.
JTL February 14, 2013 at 01:33 PM
I have not heard any public conversation regarding vertical expansion to the existing high school. This is a fairly simple, cost effective method that many school districts have used. Regarding the Middle School, if the Hudson Prairie Elementary School was eliminated, could the district gain Middle School seats without creating strain on the existing elementary school seats?
R Stime February 14, 2013 at 02:02 PM
JTL, not to dismiss your ideas but adding onto the high school has been researched and the only area to build up does not have the foundation to support it. It would not be simple or cost effective and would displace half the HS students during demolishing and rebuilding. Also, the common areas and hallways in the other parts of the building are still not large enough as it is. As far as the middle school, if you eliminate the Prairie elementary, where do you go with those kids? Also, the Middle school is already the largest middle school in the state. When is enough enough?
Big Guy February 14, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Vested, Yes, I think I know how property taxes work. Check out this website. http://www.city-data.com/ These numbers are from 2009. The median value of a house in Hudson is 210K, River Falls is 198K, and New Richmond is 165K. Your assessed value is based on the value of your home and the property it sits on. Land in Hudson cost more that RF and NR. If you take your same home and put it in Hudson, RF and NR, it will be worth more in Hudson than the other cities. All I'm trying to say is you can't use the mill rate from the surrounding communities to calculate what our taxes will be in Hudson if we build a new school. Obviously, if we build a new school, our taxes will go up.
JTL February 14, 2013 at 08:00 PM
R Stime, I have not seen those studies. In my experience, vertical expansion works and the schools simply adapt to the temporary construction zones. Many, many school districts have had succesfull 2nd Fl additions to their existing buildings for the precise reason that they are cost effective space solutions. To your question regarding the displaced elementary students, the question then remains as to whether or not sufficient space exists to absorb them.
Big Guy February 14, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Vested, Could you please provide the information/links you have that indicates both RF and NR school disticts are at half capacity and dropping? I wasn't able to find information that indicated this. Thanks.
Vested Interest February 14, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Big Guy - I checked out your link and while pretty, the data is well out of line with the yearly updated sources I see. If using your theory, why would a home's assessed value be different than one on the other side or the street or road that may be across a school district boundary line? The answer is, it won't be - that's why assessments are done, to keep everything as even as possible and adjust the mill rate accordingly. I know this much for sure, you take comparable houses in the city of Hudson vs the city of NR or RF, and Hudson's will be the lowest by far regarding taxes.
mainstreet February 15, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Year round school. Year round school. Year round school. Year round school.
Big Guy February 15, 2013 at 02:57 AM
Vested, Let me put it this way for you. Lets assume my house in Hudson is worth 200K (since it is a round number). If I bought a similar house in RF or NR in a similar neighborhood, I know I could find one for 180 - 185K. Property values in Hudson are typically worth more than RF and NR because Hudson is located closer to the cities. That said, you are correct that a similar house in RF or NR would cost me more in taxes. Probably about 500.00 per year. I'd still be interested in seeing your information/link indicating RF or NR is at half capacity and dropping. Perhaps you were blowing smoke or it doesn't exist?
T N T February 15, 2013 at 04:02 AM
still here praying
Concerned Citizen #1 February 15, 2013 at 02:21 PM
TNT, thanks for praying....much appreciated. I find it a bit ironic that you pray for all of us, or at least some of us, yet your handle on here is TNT (Trinitrotoluene). Trinitrotoluene (TNT) is an explosive. TNT is one of the most commonly used explosives for military and industrial applications.
Paul Bourget February 15, 2013 at 10:55 PM
In addition to the romantic ballad by AC/DC.
Captain Midnight February 16, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Why not do something useful instead?
Micheal Foley February 16, 2013 at 09:35 PM
If you're interested in discussing secondary space options, you may want to check out this new Local Voices post by Paul Bourget: http://hudson-wi.patch.com/blog_posts/citizens-advisory-committee-worth-another-shot


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