HR School Board upholds Sept. 2 as opening day

The 2003-04 school year will begin, as planned, on Sept. 2, though the Hood River County School District Board of Directors came within one vote of delaying opening by four days.

Elementary students, sixth graders, new students, and all Cascade Locks students start Sept. 2, the day after Labor Day, with seventh and eighth graders and high school upper classmen phasing in on Sept. 2 and 4.

But everyone got nearly a week of extra summer vacation on Aug. 12 as the School Board wrestled with superintendent Pat Evenson-Brady’s recommendation that the start of school wait until Sept. 8. The five board members present voted 3-2 not to delay school; board chairwoman Jan Veldhuisen Virk cast the deciding vote.

The delay of four days would have saved the district $400,000, toward a projected budget reduction of about $765,000 that the district expects it must make.

But lack of information from the state over school funding keeps the entire picture unclear, according to school officials. The state Legislature has yet to approve an education budget, and is not expected to do so until after Labor Day.

“Day by day we try to calculate (funding to come),” said district budget manager Gwen Gardner. “It’s a very precarious situation.”

Statewide School Funding projections range from $4.9 billion to $5.1. If the Legislature approves something near the higher figure, the district will avoid huge cuts, according to Evenson-Brady.

“It’s a moving target,” said Evenson-Brady, who had said the four-day delay was the cost-cutting option that would do “the least damage.” Curricular and extra-curricular programs and staff positions might have to be cut in case of a state funding shortfall, according to Evenson-Brady, though the board has taken no such action yet.

“If the (state) budget comes through, great, if not we’ll have to make some tough decisions,” Evenson-Brady said.

School staff including Wy’east Middle School principal Ed Drew urged the board not to delay opening.

“If we have to cover the shortfall, we still have time. If we need to cut days, we can do it at the end of the year,” Drew said.

“Now is not the time,” said Kelvin Calkins, fifth-grade teacher at May Street Elementary and president of the Hood River Education Association, the teachers’ union group. “There will be time later, should it be necessary.”

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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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