Hood River Valley School District Virtual Academy up and running

October 1, 2011

The new Hood River Valley School District Virtual Academy is up and running, Supt. Charlie Beck told the school board Wednesday evening, and has 16 students enrolled so far.

The program is starting out small, with eight credit recovery students and eight original credit students (mainly those who have been expelled or are medically fragile).

"We expect to open it up to regular students Jan. 31," Beck said. "Interest in the program comes virtually everywhere I go. There is a waiting group of maybe 30-40 who are definitely interested."

Beck estimates that the virtual academy could eventually attract as many as 100 students.

The program uses online instructors so staffing needs are minimal: a halftime secretary one halftime instructor. Beck has been developing the virtual school with Rod Hasty, who has taught credit recovery at Hood River Valley High School, and Karen Neitzel, HRVHS principal.

State school funding covers the cost of the Virtual Academy for students who are currently enrolled; once it opens up to other interested students it will charge at the following rate:

$375 per credit for in-district students who are already taking the maximum number of credits allowed for by the state, who desire to take advanced-level classes not offered by the school;

$100 per credit for in-district credit recovery students who are already taking the maximum number of credits allowed for by the state;

$400 per credit for out-of-district, home-schooled or other interested persons.

Those fees will enable the Virtual Academy to operate at a self-sustaining level, at no cost to the school district.

Beck came to Hood River County School District from the Bend/La Pine District, which had a "very successful" virtual school program, and he wanted to bring that same success to Hood River.

"The goal is to provide educational opportunities for students beyond the traditional classroom," Beck said. "There are students who don't fit the traditional sitting-in-rows, 30-student classrooms, or the 8-4 schedule; this is an opportunity for those students to get an education in their own way.

"On the other end, there are students who are capable of doing a full schedule and want to take Mandarin Chinese, or other advanced-level class not offered by the school district," he said. "It's an opportunity for us to reach out to students in a number of ways and give them an alternative."

The school board was also told that total district enrollment has increased by 84 students, with the largest number at Hood River Middle School. Beck said that consequently, a full-time teaching position has been added to HRMS and a half-time teaching position each has been added to Mid Valley, West Side and May Street elementary schools.

The cost for those positions is covered by the associated increase in state funding, which is based on enrollment.

In executive session, the school board members also approved the annual evaluation for Supt. Charlie Beck.

Board members were unanimous in their support of Beck's leadership in the goals he had set for himself: developing a professional learning community climate in the district, establishing a balanced and sustainable budget and launching a long-range comprehensive plan in the areas of curriculum/instruction, facilities and budget/finance.

The school board's next regular meeting/work session is Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the district office.

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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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