Hudsonville Public Schools
3886 Van Buren
Hudsonville, MI 49426
Phone: (616) 669-1740
Fax: (616) 669-4878
Dr. Douglas VanderJagt
Dear Hudsonville Community,
Just over a year ago we were clearly entering a time of uncertainty and trepidation. Spring break plans were being canceled, stores were closing down, and we were being forced to modify our social lives. We knew very little about COVID-19 and the health implications it would have on our most vulnerable population. This past year has proven to be challenging, but we also have a reason for optimism as we see this pandemic coming to an end. We are not out of the woods yet; however, there is certainly an assurance that we will maintain in-person learning as vaccinations become readily available. This past year we have been able to navigate this pandemic while still moving our district forward. With new construction beginning throughout the district, 1:1 device deployment nearly completed, and plans in place for supporting our staff and students, we certainly have a lot of optimism in the air.
It is always our priority that all students learn in a supportive learning environment and receive the instruction and opportunities necessary to participate in a diverse global society. To advance our efforts in ensuring these priorities are met for all students, our administrative team has recently begun to engage in professional development on the topics of implicit bias and cultural bandwidth. Additionally, through the support of committee work and consultation services, we are actively developing action steps to advance the district’s goals related to supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in our schools. Although we are at the beginning stages of this work, we look forward to extending our district’s awareness, knowledge, and skills in these important areas.
You may be hearing in the news media that schools are receiving considerable financial resources to continue to support COVID-19 operational and instructional realities. These funds are truly needed, but I want to clarify how the distribution of funds differ from district to district. To date, any federal assistance has been allocated based on local census poverty data creating substantial inequities across the state. Funds were allocated in three different series, CARES I, II, and III (also known as ESSER funds). Some districts in the state will receive substantially more than Hudsonville Public Schools. Some of them include Detroit Public ($808.5 million), Grand Rapids ($73.9 million), Kentwood ($15.7 million), West Ottawa ($6.2 million), and Grandville ($3.1 million). Hudsonville Public Schools will receive approximately $983,000 from the most recent COVID relief package, CARES III. Per student, this means that Hudsonville Public Schools will receive the 3rd lowest amount of all districts in the state of Michigan. As of this spring, we are slated to spend approximately $5.5 million dollars on COVID-19 specific operational and instructional supports for the 2020-2021 school year. With the combination of all federal funding, we were able to provide a virtual learning environment this year. However, as we proceed with the realities and uncertainties of the continued impact of the pandemic, it is necessary to prioritize the use of the COVID-19 supplemental funds. Hudsonville Public Schools will use these funds for three primary priorities: providing virtual learning for our most medically vulnerable students, ensuring safe environments through the continued purchase of cleaning supplies, and added staff to increase the social-emotional support for all students. Moving forward, if the trajectory of the pandemic remains consistent, we will not be able to provide our Eagle Virtual online program next year to the general population.
Construction is set to begin at the high school this spring. Fencing around the new choir room is up and demo/footings/pouring walls will take place in the following weeks. The fencing for the connector between the high school and freshman campus is also in place and demo/footings/pouring footings will begin during spring break. It is very exciting to see this work beginning on our high school campus. The new choir room is slated to be complete by the end of this calendar year and the high school connector will be completed during the 2022-2023 school year. To follow with current construction timelines and photos, please visit HPSbondprojects.com for updated information. You will find details regarding all the construction projects taking place.
Finally, please also be aware of an upcoming vote this spring. On May 4, Hudsonville Public School parents and community members will have the chance to vote on our annual Non-Homestead Millage renewal. This is an annual renewal request that voters have approved for the past 26 years and would generate approximately $5.5 million dollars of operating revenue for our school district. Please note, this is not a tax on primary residences and is not a new tax. Please vote that day.
This year has certainly been unique, but we continue to plan for a great future. As we anticipate a normal start to the school year next year, we have finalized our district calendar with school starting on Monday, August 23. You can find the complete calendar posted on our website.
I know this year has been tough on all of us. I want to share my sincere appreciation for the continued partnership as our school community and parent community work together in hopes of getting on the other side of the pandemic stronger together.
Doug VanderJagt, Ph.D.