HR schools gear up for 2003-04 cuts

Budget committee meets again Tuesday

Murals depicting pioneers and fruit workers loomed in the Hood River Valley High School library, where the budget committee of the Hood River Valley School District began its own arduous work this week.

“This is a dynamic process,” superintendent Rick Eggers said Tuesday. “This is a budget proposal, and based on recommendations by the budget committee we can change it. That’s how the process works.” Eggers spoke to an audience of 75 people in what will be the first of four public meetings on the proposed $29.43 million general fund budget for the 2003-04 school year. The budget committee must consider up to $2.5 million in cuts next year, but it heard the outline of a plan for a Local Option tax that would limit the cuts to $1.2 million. The property tax would be on the Sept. 16 ballot. Eggers stressed that no Local Option proposal has yet gone to school board.

Budget committee chairman Craig Mallon reiterated at the Tuesday meeting that no public comment would be taken, as the committee is a month behind schedule in starting the budget review since the state was slow in providing revenue figures for 2003-04.

“We have the same time line, and we have to work very quickly from here on out,” Mallon said.

Public comment opportunities start Tuesday. The committee meets again on May 20 and May 27. By June 3 the committee must reach a recommendation to pass on to the school board, which must adopt a budget by June 30. All sessions start at 7 p.m. at the HRVHS library.

Without a Local Option, the district would reduce elementary music and physical education by half, and Eggers said those programs would receive top priority if the Local Option passes.

Eggers said Tuesday the budget is based on a $4.5 billion state education budget, though forecasts put the figure as high as $5.5 billion — a figure many school districts are using in preparing their 2003-04 budgets.

“To project more (than $4.5 billion) at this point in time would not be fiscally prudent,” Eggers said.

Student Christy Paul said, “It’s good (the district) is being conservative and expecting the worst because if it turns out better then everyone will be happier. But as far as the cuts they made, they didn’t really take into account the thoughts of students, parents and community.”

However, HRVHS co-principal Steve Fisk said, “We’ve heard from an awful lot of folks in the building, including kids.” Fisk said school adminstrators “spent a great deal of time disagreeing with one another” while reaching a “consensus decision after looking at all the things we do for kids and at what we had.”

Much of the focus of Tuesday’s meeting fell on funding of the high school, and athletic programs in particular. Athletic director Mitch Sanders said the athletic budget has dropped from $377,000 in 2001-02 to a proposed $228,000 in 2003-04, with cuts coming mainly in supplies, equipment replacement, and coaching.

Six sports will be cut from the general fund next year: swimming, golf, cross country, tennis, lacrosse, and skiing, though Sanders said the district will try to keep them as club sports — the district would pay for transportation but not coaches’ pay.

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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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