First-graders crowded at Mid Valley, parents say

The school year is still new, but a group of Mid Valley Elementary School parents already have a few concerns, which they voiced at Wednesday’s school board meeting. Among the complaints were that classroom sizes are too large, new bus schedules are creating safety issues and there is a distinct lack of dual-language instruction.

“Mid Valley funneled four kindergarten classes last year into three first-grade classes this year, which puts 30-plus kids in each class,” parent Darla Kroll said. “The only solution is to find the funding for a full-time teacher for an additional first-grade class.”

According to the most recent enrollment figures, Mid Valley’s first grade classes have 32, 31 and 30 children each, compared to May Street’s 28, 29 and 28, Parkdale’s 23 and 22, and Westside’s 24, 25 and 25.

Supt. Charlie Beck responded that there is always a drop in enrollment after a few weeks, and it is the administration’s practice to re-evaluate after that has happened.

“We look at student counts very carefully after the 10-day drop,” he said. “We have scheduled a review. But we have to balance the finances and do the best we can with what’s available.”

Parent Kim Yasui said that students who received dual language instruction for six years at Mid Valley are not getting that instruction once they move on to Wy’east Middle School.

“Eighteen parents have signed a letter saying they want more dual language instruction,” she said.

“I heard two things that we should be doing: More Spanish and more teachers, and both require finances,” Beck said.

The board also approved the hiring of Kevin Noreen, of Sherwood, as new human resources director, to replace Bob Dais, who is retiring. Dais will work with Noreen between now and Sept. 20, when he will take over the position.

“I truly believe we have found the right candidate for human resources director for Hood River,” Beck said.

Beck also commented on how happy he is with how well the professional learning communities (PLCs) are going so far this year.

“I had an opportunity to visit Mid Valley recently and the PLCs could be videotaped and shown as a teaching tool for PLCs,” he said. “They really knew what they were doing, were so focused; I was really impressed.”

According to information supplied by the Hood River County School District, the PLCs are being used as a collaborative approach to increase student learning. Each Monday begins an hour late for students, which allows teachers time to work together analyzing student work, developing common assessments and sharing ideas on instructional strategies and unites of instruction.

Using student data, staff will also work to design additional time and support for students who need it, and enrichment or extensions for students who already “get it.”

At the elementary level, teachers work in grade-level teams, such as a second-grade team or a fifth-grade team. These teams are working on math and writing instruction this year.

Middle school and high school teachers work on content-area teams, such as science or the arts, and are focused on creating common assessments and implementing common core standards.

The standards and expectations for students are increasing at all levels, kindergarten through grade 12. For example, in order to earn a high school diploma, the class of 2013 will have to earn a passing score on the state tests in reading/language arts and writing. The class of 2014 will continue this trend and must also pass a math test.

Middle and high school students may attend supervised study halls prior to school starting each Monday. Transportation from home to school must be provided by parents. There is no cost for the Monday-morning study halls.

Monday late start times for schools

Cascade Locks — 8:45 a.m.

Hood River Middle School — 8:50 a.m.

Hood River Valley High School — 9:15 a.m.

Center for Alternative Learning (CAL), HRVHS — 9:15 a.m.

May Street — 8:45 a.m.

Mid Valley — 8:50 a.m.

Parkdale Elem. — 8 a.m.

Westside Elem. — 9 a.m.

Wy’east Middle School — 8:45 a.m.

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For more information visit www.hoodriver. k12.or.us or call the district office at 541-387-5011.

The next school board meeting will be held Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 1011 Eugene St., Hood River.

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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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