State budget cuts send pre-K Head Start kids home

Some 39 Head Start preschoolers in Hood River County are starting summer vacation sooner than originally planned when their program was forced to close early due to state funding cuts.

Mid-Columbia Children’s Council’s Parkdale Head Start Center closed Friday, as did one classroom of the two classrooms at its Pine Grove center. Also affected are 29 of the children MCCC serves in The Dalles, bringing the total to 68.

Funding to MCCC’s Head Start programs comes from both federal and state grants, according to Executive Director Suzanne VanOrman. The particular classrooms closing early are funded by Oregon Pre-Kindergarten (OPK) Programs.

For fall 2003, “we are planning business as usual,” VanOrman said. “We may have some reductions in what we do, but planning to do the same thing. Unless the money really disappears it’s really hard to say.”

“We’ll assume we’ll pretty much have what we had,” she said, in part because programs serving 80 or fewer students, including Early Head Start, are currently protected.

“But that depends on how deep the cuts go,” VanOrman said.

For 2002-03, the program first absorbed as much of the OPK cuts as she could manage, without resorting to cutting services to children and families, according to VanOrman. But finally, she had no choice but to shorten the school year.

“We managed to maintain the classes as long as we could by not filling a position and by making appropriate cutbacks,” VanOrman said.

The future is uncertain for Wasco and Hood River County families planning to send their preschoolers to OPK in the fall. So far, there is no news from the Oregon Legislature about next year’s budget for OPK.

Sixty people attended graduation ceremonies Wednesday at Parkdale, and the cafeteria filled up for a graduation potluck at Pine Grove.

“There were four adults there for every child,” VanOrman said.

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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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