Cash for Comments winners read ideas to school board

March 12, 2011

Hood River's Cory Roeseler recently sponsored a "Cash for Comments" essay contest, with $100 in cash prizes for "thoughtful ideas to balance the school district budget."

All Hood River County School District students were invited to write essays no longer than 200 words with their ideas on ways to help the district close the $3.5 million funding gap.

Roeseler introduced two of the four winners at Wednesday evening's school board meeting. (The other two winners had asked to remain anonymous.)

"With the grim news of the additional budget cuts, I thought it would be interesting to turn this into a learning experience," Roeseler told the board. "And that's how Cash for Comments was born.

"We set out not to solve the budget problems but to give the kids an opportunity to voice their concerns; an incentive to weigh in on the proposed cuts," he said.

In all, 53 essays were submitted. The identities of the writers were concealed from the judges. The winners each received $100 in cash and an additional $150 to be donated to the Save Our Schools fund of their choosing (elementary, middle school or high school funds, or "maximum impact" fund).

Save Our Schools, formed recently by concerned parents and community members in response to drastic school district budget cuts, has partnered with the Hood River County Education Foundation. The organization is working to raise as much money as possible by April 6, when the school district's budget committee meets to make final decisions on proposed cuts for next year.

(Below are two of four winning essays. Two winners wished to remain anonymous.)

By Ethan Happy

Parkdale Elementary School

To save money, our school can take Friday off and leave four days a week. We can also offer more after school classes that people pay for. I do not want to cut P.E. because it is one of my favorite classes. Music is also a class I like.

By Elizabeth Gobbo


When facing a daunting budget crisis, it can be difficult to find a simple solution. However, I have some suggestions I think could help the school make and save money.

One thing that could be done by the school board administration is to make one or more levels of the schools year-round (maybe just elementary school, or possibly just all schools in the district). It is much cheaper to pay to cool schools I the summer than to pay for heating in winter. While students may at first be unhappy at the idea of going to school during the summer, a schedule could be worked out in which students get a vacation every three months or so, thus spacing out the summer vacation time and making the school year's education more fluid and even.

Also, clubs can each arrange a fundraiser once or twice a year. With each club raising more money for the school in some way, surely enough can be raised to make some difference.

While these still don't solve the budget crisis, they are both helpful and valid suggestions that, if considered, could keep money in the schools while keeping the many beloved programs and jobs in place.

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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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