Slicing time

Schools, public must keep open mind

Hood River School District must ask its own $64,000 question: Is it worth cutting six sports in order to save that amount of money?

Word got out last week that the district is looking at cutting out cross country, swimming, golf, tennis, skiing and lacrosse programs in 2003-04, to help meet a projected $2.5 million in budget cuts.

Is such a sliver of $2.5 million worth it? Can other options not be found?

These are valid questions, ones the School Board and the Budget Committee members doubtless have already been asked. The answers aren’t simple. Over the past year the administration has wrung out the cloth in the absence of leadership from the Oregon Legislature when it comes to sustaining and predicting even a vaguely stable stream of school revenue.

But the district must remain open to responses from the public over the proposed $64,000 impact on six athletic programs that benefit an estimated 150 students.

Lacrosse will continue, according to school officials, and youths have other avenues for swimming, skiing, tennis, golf, and competitive running.

Yet it must be considered that even in the “pay to play” era, school sports have a unique value: they provide a grassroots, low-cost opportunity for kids to learn skills and compete with peers.

Which points to two alternatives to consider: expanded intramural programs at the high school and middle schools, and adding Community Education sports and recreation programs geared to 14-18-year-olds, with the district using some of its athletics savings to underwrite tuition.

To use a golf analogy, a player can choose from a variety of woods and irons to correct a slice or work his way up to the next green. What it comes down to is that for the hitting of balls and running of races, mitigations are possible.

However, it is also possible to put too large an emphasis on sports cutbacks when plenty of other reductions that affect instruction are also looming. Interim school superintendent Rick Eggers, who inherited the formidable task of creating a budget proposal under difficult times, has been mum about what those cuts will be, but he has indicated that up to a dozen licensed positions (read: teachers) could be cut.

More will be known when Eggers presents the 2003-04 plan tonight in the 7:30 p.m. board meeting at Mid Valley Elementary School in Odell.

For the sake of sports as well as programs in general, if ever there was a time to plan for large board meeting attendance this would be it. If ever there was a time for school officials and patrons to listen mutually this would be it.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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