School budget: A wrinkle among the tough choices

A stark reality surrounds the pending budget for the Hood River County School District.

This spring, the district can truly benefit from the community’s attention and comment upon the prospect of $1.4 million in cuts from the projected $39.64 million 2013-2014 budget.

Instructional programs, staffing, and the overall effectiveness of our schools are at stake, as the administration, school board and budget committee begin to wrangle with the likelihood of tough choices.

As reported on page A1, a total of 14 teaching and support positions have been proposed for cutting, though it must be stressed no decision has been made on the actual jobs that could be eliminated, and the list of cuts is only a proposal.

Whatever happens between now and June 26, Superintendent Charlie Beck must bequeath a difficult and complex set of reductions for his successor, Dan Goldman, to assume come July 1. Goldman, the superintendent-to-be, has ample experience in everything from classroom teaching to counseling to managing multiple instructional programs, and he and the rest of the administration will have their work cut out for them.

Among the proposals is a relatively small figure of $80,000, the amount of the general fund that would be removed from the Community Education budget.

“We want Community Education to come up with a long-term plan for viability,” Beck said. The figure may be one of the smallest separate items in the menu of proposed cuts, but it would be a big blow to that program.

Director John Rust has shown flexibility and innovation in the past when faced with the need to cut back, and the program and its needs must be considered along with the rest of the prospective list.

However, the deliberation over Community Education must take into account a kind of intangible benefit the program provides. (Its shorthand nickname makes it sound like your favorite handyman.)

For “Community Ed” is not one program but hundreds of small ones, provided for and driven by members of the community and their talents. Rust and his staff provide a large roof for many rooms. Community Ed is like a pot of glue that stays malleable but connective, a set of resources tying together the school district, and groups and individuals from throughout the county. (Its budget is mostly based on fees for classes and programs.) People and organizations rely on Community Ed as an information base and shared resource for awareness of a wide variety of things that define us as a community, and it provides many opportunities to participate.

It’s a tough choice, but what Community Ed does for the community at large cannot be viewed as simply a set of dollar signs.

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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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