Editorial: An intriguing school idea in Cascade Locks

November 30, 2011

For years the Cascade Locks Charter School Committee has gone "back to the drawing board" in its efforts to forge a charter school deal with the Hood River County School District.

We believe both parties have always acted in good faith, but now the Cascade Locks Committee has decided it can no longer work with the HRCSD and has put forth a proposal to merge with neighboring Corbett School District.

This is definitely one for the chalkboard - that is, worth considering, but carefully.

Since the Charter Committee is about self-determination - giving parents a choice of where to educate their children, and doing so in their own town - the idea of merging with another jurisdiction needs to be examined. How might that option freely allow Cascade Locks, as a community, to chart its own course for its families' sake?

Details are far from set, but what is being considered is changing the boundary so that the school becomes part of Corbett district. The new masters would become Corbett's school board. This district is, it must be stressed, located in another county. State school support payments, ownership of prime real estate and money would go out of county and into the hands of a group of people 20 miles away, rather similar to the case now with HRCSD.

And it just might be the thing to do. Corbett has a great reputation, which committee members suggest means they have the resources and aptitude to turn Cascade Locks into a magnet school for local kids and motivated parents who are willing to carpool 45 minutes or longer to get their kids to their school of choice.

But again, is that the same as self-determination?

Committee chairman George Fischer and consultant Connie Kennedy Buttaccio present a strong case, and say the group is primed to begin circulating a petition that they believe would open the right legal doors to allow the merger. And on Monday, Cascade Locks City Council gave unanimous support to the idea.

It all leads to an ideal forum for vetting this imaginative proposal: the Joint Task Force of the Port and City of Cascade Locks, which meets Dec. 5.

Ultimately, a change such as this merger has to be considered in light of the community's economic needs. Part of Fischer's argument is that Cascade Locks businesses suffer from parents heading out of town to school events in Hood River and elsewhere.

So with the idea of an economic benefit tied to keeping students and families in Cascade Locks, the community should take a holistic look at the economic implications of changing ownership of one of the town's proudest facilities, its school, which Fischer rightly calls "the living room of the community."

Would it make sense for Cascade Locks to turn over its living room to a neighbor? Would it truly lead to self-determination?

Perhaps it would. But like any good homework assignment, this one deserves time and examination from all sides, before proceeding.

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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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