School board update: District seeks details on state poverty formula

School Superintendent Dan Goldman told the Hood River County School District board he has invited Michael Elliott of the state Department of Education to attend the board’s Jan. 22 meeting to discuss the proposed changes in how the Department of Education calculates funding for students who are considered to be below the poverty line.

The district stands to lose $200,000 per year if these procedures are put into place, according to Goldman, who noted that 9 of 10 of the districts who stand to gain most financially from the proposed changes are from the Portland metropolitan area and the I-5 corridor.

The reductions would come “just at a time when we thought we’d be getting out of the hole,” Goldman said, noting that he is in communication with other school districts about “banding together” to lobby against the changes.

In other business:

n As reported in the Jan. 11 edition, the District is about to embark on a thorough review of its transportation operations, to find more efficiencies in light of the need to replace portions of its fleet.

Goldman told the school board Jan. 8, “I believe we are at a decision point,” Goldman said. “Either we look for changes to achieve efficiencies in ways we provide transportation, or we’re going to have to look at reductions in other areas so that we can buy two buses a year.

“The administration is committed to protecting class sizes and programs as much as possible so we are going to start exploring a number of potential changes to our general transportation services,” Goldman said.

n Finance Director Saundra Buchanan and Goldman reported on the 2012-13 audit findings. Goldman credited Buchanan and her staff “for the unbelievable number of hours, especially considering you are taking on someone else’s work.” Buchanan was hired in August to succeed former finance manager Nick Hogan.

The district financial advisory committee will be briefed Monday on auditor Pauly-Rogers’ report, which then is scheduled to be presented to the board on Jan. 22.

The board meets at 6 p.m. at the District office at 10th and Eugene streets.

Goldman said, “We received a modified opinion, which indicates that some problems were found and changes are required that points to a small number of logistical issues regarding internal procedures, and we will be fixing those things this spring. There are no ethical or legal deficiencies.”

“When we have a modified opinion, it affects the way the public perceives the way we manage our resources,” and it can have a negative affect on the district bond rating, which impacts the amount the district has to pay in interest and other costs on bonds approved by voters. “So it is important that we clean this up,” he said.

Buchanan also said she is updating the web page devoted to the district budget, and also plans to develop a page for the audit report.

“It’s an important thing and right now it’s a kind of a missing link in the process,” she said.

The board also took a lengthy look at two documents-in-transition. One is the new District Strategic Plan, and the other is the ongoing review of every district policy, which covered ample ground from building use to committee appointments.

These include reducing the number of routes, a difficult challenge based on district geography, Goldman noted.

“We could be looking at fewer stops; but how far are we expecting students to walk?” he said.

He said the transportation services review is just getting started and will include principals.

n The board approved an application for an Oregon Minority Educator Pipeline Grant for 2013-15, which will help the district in its goal of hiring minority educators, while also a cadet program to encourage current students who may want to become teachers.

Currently 54 percent of district students are Hispanic (compared to 35 percent statewide) while 3 percent of its teachers are Hispanic.

n The board spent about a half an hour on its ongoing policy review. The district has hired Oregon School Board Association to analyze all its policies and provide recommended changes. It will take through June for the board to go through all the policies. Section by section, throughout the school year the board is reviewing those suggestions and kicking the updates back to the administration to then present an overall set of changes by July.

The fast-track process is being headed by Human Resources Director Kevin Noreen.

“It’s a lot of work in a short amount of time, but it needs to be done,.” Noreen told the board.

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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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