Hudson School District to Hire At Risk Coordinator

August 1, 2014

by Lynne Ober

After hearing a proposal and reviewing a job description, the Hudson School Board voted unanimously to approve the position of at-risk coordinator for the school district.  This coordinator, who would report to the assistant superintendent of schools as part of the SAU staff, would be responsible for coordinating the at-risk programs from kindergarten through grade twelve.  At-risk coordinator duties would include identifying and monitoring, communicating with teachers and parents, contacting community resource agencies, scheduling intervention and follow-up meetings, and overseeing at-risk student information.  This position will also co-chair the school district’s Dropout Task Force.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Schlichter told the board that at-risk students who are not part of the special education program often “fall through the cracks.”  She explained that each may start the school year with an adequate performance, but, as the year proceeds, that performance tails off, resulting in a less-than-adequate result, which means that such a student is then poorly prepared for the next year.  Schlichter also said that such students often are not followed from one school to another with the same thoroughness as a special education student would be.

School Board Chairman Laura Bisson said that the Dropout Task Force identified the need for a position to coordinate such efforts, with the goal of ensuring that each student received needed help.  “This is one of the new positions that we put in our budget which passed (in March 2014),” Bisson advised the board.

Schlichter said she would be looking for a candidate with a minimum of five years’ experience working with at-risk students and someone who had a master’s degree or equivalent and a New Hampshire certification in teaching or human services field.  She stressed, however, that this person would not be teaching.

According to Schlichter, the coordinator would collaborate with subject area staff to support identified at-risk students.  “I want this position to attend meetings, such as intervention meetings, parent meetings, year-end transition, Student Success Team, etc. for the purpose of gathering and disseminating information.  This will be critical for adequate follow through.”  Communication among the coordinator, parents and staff would be a critical component, and the coordinator would also help identify and secure community resources to provide services and help for at-risk students.

Every Hudson school currently has an At Risk Program.  One of the needed pieces is someone to gather and analyze data on at-risk students in order to determine referrals of students to the program, determine appropriate interventions and keep track of their progress, Schlichter noted.  This position will also oversee at-risk student files in an effort to keep track of interventions and the progress of each student as well as prepare written materials such as reports, correspondence, memos to convey information to appropriate stakeholders,” explained Schlichter.

Before the vote, Jeanne Saunders, director of Special Education, said she felt this position was needed as soon as possible and hoped the board would authorize hiring the position.

After a brief discussion, the board agreed to waive their policy of a second review at a second meeting and voted unanimously to proceed and to allow the search to begin immediately.  “We’d like to have this person on board when school starts,” explained Bisson.