Pine Grove Elementary faces massive change in role as budget cuts loom

March 19, 2011


PINE GROVE second-grader Laura Magaña frolics in the school’s playground Thursday.

Every school got something new, and now every school gets something taken away.

Over the past two years, every school facility in the Hood River County School District received an upgrade in construction bond-supported projects: classrooms, a performing arts center, a science wing, kitchen and restroom improvements, new windows and heating systems, and others.

Now, every school in the district faces a cutback - some impact from the pending budget reductions totaling $1.5 million for the 2011-12 school year.

None of the changes will be felt more seriously than Pine Grove and Cascade Locks, assuming enactment in June of proposals now before the school board and budget committee.

The overall use of Pine Grove would change from a K-5 school to a facility serving early childhood and special needs students.

(See adjoining story for a look at the impact on Cascade Locks School.)

"Any change process is difficult," said Pine Grove's principal, Kelly Beard.

"We're proceeding with transition plans for families of Pine Grove students and the move to Mid Valley, and for parents of Cascade Locks students for the move to Hood River Middle School," superintendent Charlie Beck said.

Beard and Mid Valley Elementary Principal Dennis McCauley are working on the transition plan, which includes forming teacher and parent transition teams. They have scheduled a March 31 meeting with the staff team, to be followed that night by a meeting with PTO, site council and local committee parents.

Beck said Thursday that the long-range situations at Pine Grove and Cascade Locks "are not settled," because the next school budget has not been formally ratified. The precise uses of Pine Grove next year have not been set, though the district has identified it as possible site for early intervention programs now housed at Frankton School (which would be sold), a virtual academy and Community Education.

"I have been impressed by the students, parents, staff, countless times; and just hearing this news that these students are going to be asked to change to a new school is hard and it's sad," Beard said. "But I am once again impressed by that overwhelming sense of community spirit that is Pine Grove.

"It is a multi-generational school. There are people still in Pine Grove who remember when it was 1-6 and 1-12; they graduated from high school in Pine Grove.

"This is an amazing group of people; It's hard," Beard said. "But the community of Pine Grove has gone through change at this school before, a number of times over 100 years."

For parents of kindergartners in the Pine Grove boundary, the notification is already out in the annual Kindergarten Roundup: students can be enrolled at either Pine Grove or Mid Valley. It is the Odell school that those 5- and 6-year-olds are most likely to be attending.

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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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