Cut school personnel

I haven't attended all the school board meetings, but on the occasions that I have attended I am usually the only representative of the general public. It is rare that anyone not directly linked to the school district is in attendance. A few teachers, vice-principals, principals, administration staff, a school system secretary and attorney, sometimes a representative from the Hood River News, and the board members are usually the only ones there. If there seems to be no public input, that is because the public couldn't be bothered to attend, they just want to complain after the fact.

According to the budget and finance committee (they hold public meetings, too) 83 cents on every dollar our school system handles is pre-allocated to meet contractual wage and benefit obligations of school personnel. That leaves 17 cents on a dollar to do everything else. With over four-fifths of the budget tied to personnel and a state-wide shortage of funds, the personnel category is the only place meaningful cuts can take place. Compared to the rest of the industrialized world, our teachers, administrators and staff are among the highest paid and we are top-heavy in administration and staff, some of this due to government-mandated but nog government-funded, programs. Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Education, our nation's high school seniors are on the bottom of the list in math and science. When a premium price is paid, a superior product is expected. In a world market our administrators, staff and teachers are over-paid. Our students are under-achievers and Oregon schools are short of funds. With more than four-fifths of every dollar going to wages and benefits, what choices do the board members have? If they turn off the electricity and water, they still won't make payroll, (Other districts throughout the state are closing schools. I'm sure it would ber a cost savings to close Cascade Locks and ship the students to Hood River.) Personnel cuts appear to be the only viable action. If you have a better idea, come to a school board meeting and express it. Public input has been welcomed at every school board meeting I ever attended. They always listen, whether they agree or not.

Michael Fifer

Hood River

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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