More cuts expected at schools

Eight days of school or up to 11 teaching jobs could be eliminated under the proposed state School Fund Budget for 2003-04.

Hood River County Schools face a range of options that could include “days” and jobs, district officials announced Thursday.

The State School Fund budget passed by the Oregon House last week means about $765,000 in deeper cuts for the school district, according to Business Manager Gwen Gardner.

She based her findings on the budget passed last week by the Oregon House of Representatives and sent on to the Oregon Senate.

“Even though the House calls the budget $5.05 billion, the Oregonian and our professional organizations say the real revenue will only be $4.91 billion,” Gardner said.

“If the State School Fund (SSF) is less than $5.3 billion for the biennium, the school board will have to make additional reductions,” said Dr. Pat Evenson-Brady, Superintendent.

The School Board’s next meeting is Aug. 13, 7 p.m. (changed from the originally-scheduled date.) The board is not expected to take action at that time, Evenson-Brady said.

“At this point it is difficult to make any cutbacks before school starts,” Evenson-Brady said, with the exception of cutting days.

“That (cutting days) is the only one we could make before school starts,” she said. But on the overall question of cutbacks, “I’m not going to ask them to address it until we have a budget out of Salem,” she said.

Evenson-Brady said that examples of items to be considered in cutting $765,000 might include any of the following: cutting eight days of school; cutting all of the elementary Physical Education and Music programs and cutting 5.5 teachers; cutting all co-curricular activities at the middle and high schools or cutting between 5.5 and 11 teaching positions. Each of these budget examples costs about $800,000, according to Evenson-Brady. However, the board might choose none of the above, or a combination of cuts. (The district will make no changes in 2003-04 to the kindergarten schedule, which had previously been identified as an option.)

“We never know how much money we have to run our schools until the school year is over, because our funding is based on our total enrollment for the whole year,” Evenson-Brady said. “That makes our budgeting process totally an educated guess. Not knowing our state school funding until this late in the year, after the adoption of our budget, limits our choices,” Evenson-Brady said.

The 2003-04 school district budget was adopted with $1.3 million in revenue in a projected local option tax election. Because of uncertainty about the actual state revenue, a community committee recommended shelving the proposed local option tax election slated for September 2003. The School Board decided to take additional cuts if state funds were insufficient to backfill the items listed for the local option.

Further complicating the budget picture is the effects of $2.4 million in cuts previously made in the 02-03 and the 03-04 budgets. “None of these cuts will be restored with any SSF budget number currently being discussed in Salem,” said Gardner. Cuts already made in 03-04 included reductions in sports and co-curricular activities, teaching positions, school supplies, library and textbooks, technology, facilities maintenance and central administration. In 2002-03, cuts included summer school, sports and co-curricular wages, professional development, textbooks, technology, as well as the Land Acquisition Fund for a future elementary school.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski reportedly plans to veto the State School Fund at this amount.

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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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