In District: School board revives a great tradition

School District patrons are the beneficiaries of the return of a good tradition: board meetings out in the communities served.

The Hood River County School Board meets Wednesday at Wy’east Middle School, in its first meeting since the start of the 2013-14 school year on Sept. 3.

New superintendent Dan Goldman and board chair Liz Whitmore reinstituted the practice of alternating the meetings between the district office and the local schools.

Most months, the two regular board meetings are split between the district and a school. The next board meeting will be Sept. 25 at the district office, and the next in-the-field session will be Oct. 9 at Cascade Locks School. Meetings typically start at 6:30 p.m.

There are many good reasons for moving the meetings around, starting with generally improved access: not every session happens in Hood River.

Further, the district office meeting room is the smallest and probably the least comfortable for the public of any space available to the board.

Convening in the schools gives each campus a turn to show off a bit, and helps broaden the perspective of the board and staff members. Three key HRCSD administrators are new to the district this year: Goldman, Curriculum chief Erin Lolich and Finance Chief Saundra Buchanan. Additionally, there are two new school board members: David Russo and Julia Ramirez-Garcia.

The schools are true community centers, so it is appropriate that they be used for people to gather in the common interest. Bringing school leaders to the places affected by their decisions is good business sense. It creates stronger connections between places and programs and the people involved.

The showcase factor is important, too: typically, the board hears about programs or developments at the host school.

At the very least, meeting at the school buildings gives patrons of that area an opportunity to speak their minds to the board while in their own neighborhood. People may be reticent to attend, or speak, for a variety of reasons, but this way, at least once a month people won’t have to travel far to have their say or to just listen and observe.

Which means that with the outreach fostering increased public contact to school leaders, it is up to community to make use of the opportunity.

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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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