Schools face potential cuts of $3.15 million

January 21

A round of informal budget forums starts next month, as Hood River County School District faces cuts totalling up to $3.15 million from the 2004-05 budget if Measure 30 fails on the Feb. 3 ballot.

Roughly half the cuts would be in licensed and classified staffing, including up to 18 teaching jobs. Even with Measure 30 passage, the district will need to cut back by $339,204, according to Superintendent Pat Evenson-Brady.

“The numbers are a worst-case scenario,” Dr. Evenson-Brady said. “We have looked at it, and now we know what we have to do if we hit bottom. It ain’t pretty,” she said.

“We’ll have almost weekly changes in the figures until about August,” Evenson-Brady said. “It is always a moving target. We never know until the school year is over because the figures are based on the number of students enrolled.”

The public’s first chance to give their feedback on budget priorities will be at 6 p.m. on Feb. 5 in Cascade Locks, with the first of four budget forums. Budget forums are also planned on Feb. 9 at Hood River Valley High School library (5 p.m.); Feb. 24 at Wy’east Middle School (6 p.m.); and Feb. 26 at the District Office (7:30 p.m.)

“The forums will be an informal opportunity for discussions,” Evenson-Brady said.

“The board wanted to provide expanded opportunities to comment on the proposed budget.” The forums will gather that input before the budget is drafted by staff and presented to the Budget Committee and, subsequently, the School Board.

School Board members and the Budget Committee will listen to comments, answer questions, and compile input for use by the Budget Committee.

“The School Board desired broad input beofre the budget developed, rather than after the fact,” Evenson-Brady said. The public will have more opportunities to comment on the budget itself, once the committee starts deliberations April 6.

At Wednesday’s Budget Committee organizational meeting, Evenson-Brady presented the panel with a list of “potential budget reductions” in its meeting Wednesday at the District Office. Under the tentative plan, the district would:

* Cut four school days this year and another four in 2004-05;

* Cut 10 staff members (6.75 teachers) at Hood River Valley High School, 13 elementary staff (6.75 teachers) and 7.5 middle school staff (four teachers) for a total savings of about $1.6 million;

* Reduce textbook purchases by 66 percent, reduce building maintenance by one-fourth;

* Eliminate some HRVHS and Cascade Locks high school sports and activity programs and reduce others;

* Eliminate all middle school sports.

Other cuts would include reducing one assistant superintendent position to half-time, and cut nearly $100,000 in supplies and technology throughout the district.

The forums are essentially a repeat of similar events held by the district one year ago as it dealt with $1.05 million in cuts to the 2003-04 budget. In the 2002-03 budget, the district cut $2.08 million.

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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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