Tuesday, June 25, 2002
By RICK METSGER
Special to the News
Like most of you I was deeply disappointed by the recent decision of the State Superintendent’s office to uphold the recommendation by the Oregon School Activities Association to move Hood River Valley High School into the Intermountain Conference.
The superintendent and the OSAA have abandoned our children and their best interests. Additionally, the OSAA’s decision is riddled with flaws and contradictions. During the process, the OSAA admitted that they had not followed their own rules for realignment. The hearings officer noted in his order that if the OSAA’s own criteria were followed, HRVHS may not have been moved to the IMC. The hearings officer also freely acknowledged the extreme burden this decision would place on students and families in Hood River, yet never justified this burden.
The entire decision making process was vague at best. I even had to get a legal opinion from the legislative counsel’s office to clarify for them who had the authority to make decisions on this matter. When the OSAA did attempt to justify their recommendation, they simply pointed to the lengthy process they followed, and ignored the substantive issues about the effect of this decision on students.
Frankly, I don’t care how many hours the OSAA deliberated to reach this decision. Their process was flawed and the outcome is damaging to our schools.
Throughout this fight, I have talked and worked with many parents, educators, and concerned citizens in the Hood River community. Like all of you, I am troubled by the thought of our students spending more time traveling to athletic and other interscholastic competitions.
When I heard the news about this decision, I was in Salem working with my legislative colleagues in an attempt to balance the state budget. As we work to protect K-12 education from budget cuts, I am unable to find a shred of logic that supports spending more money on student travel. As the Hood River County School District is facing budget cuts, protection of classroom instruction and programs should take precedent over unnecessary travel. In addition to the costs, students will be spending less time in the classroom focusing on their education, which is the number one priority of our schools.
While we may have lost this round, the match is not over. During the next legislative session, I plan to bring the OSAA before the appropriate legislative committee and move to codify their decision making process. The OSAA has been able to operate as a quasi-independent body with little oversight. Our schools have no real alternative but to participate in the OSAA, yet decisions like these seem to be made in a vacuum.
I believe there will be considerable support from my legislative colleagues on this issue. The OSAA never acknowledged the downward trend of our state finances and the impact of these increased travel costs on school districts that are already strapped for cash. No community should ever have to go through this type of experience again.
The mission of the OSAA states that they strive to “provide equitable participation opportunities, positive recognition and learning experiences to students, while enhancing the achievement of educational goals.” Clearly this realignment move by the OSAA is in contradiction with the most basic tenets of their mission. They have increased barriers for students to participate in athletics and other activities, while simultaneously decreasing the amount of time athletes spend in the classroom.
State Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, represents Hood River County as part of his 26th District.
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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