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School Board prepares to hire Evenson-Brady

Hood River County School Board this week took three steps for the short-term, medium-term and long-term.

The three actions, involving labor negotiations, superintendent hiring, and facilities, were taken at Parkdale Elementary School.

The short-range step was to ratify a one-year contract with Hood River Education Association, the teacher’s union. The contract, which board chair Jan Veldhuisen Virk said was reached in an atmosphere of cooperation, gives teachers a 1.5 percent salary increase in 2003-04, but requires them to nearly double their medical insurance premium payments.

The mid-term step was to authorize legal counsel Jeff Baker to negotiate a contract with Dr. Pat Evenson-Brady, the sole finalist for the superintendent’s position. Evenson-Brady is all but certain to be hired and begin work by July 1.

The long-term step was to approve a working list of projects to be paid for by the $1.2 million in remaining construction bond funds approved by voters in 2000. The money must be spent on capital projects, since it is tax money approved by voters on a ballot title specifying the revenue would be used only for facilities.

The district had two options for the $1.2 million, which is ended up with as a result of prudent project management in 2001 and 2002 in remodeling and expansion projects at Hood River Valley High School, Wy’east and Hood River middle schools, Cascade Locks School, and May Street Elementary, according to interim superintendent Rick Eggers.

One option was to return the money to voters in a one-time rebate of $1 per $1,000 assessed valuation. (That would mean the owner of a $150,000 home would receive $150.) Only two people had said they should return the money, board members said in a verbal poll during Wednesday’s meeting.

The other option, and the one taken Wednesday, is to spend the money during the next year. The board approved a preliminary list of 21 projects, totaling $622,535. A second round of projects will be determined later, Eggers said.

District officials stressed that the remaining bond money can only be spent on capital projects intrinsic to the buildings, and not on salaries, curriculum, school buses or other needs.

The first round of projects is subject to change and will take into account feedback from Local Committees and administrators at each school. Cascade Locks Local Committee Member Lynae Hansen said the projects proposed for her school differ from ones previously identified when the district did a facilities survey in 1999.

She asked for, and received, assurance that the Local Committee could weigh in on the actual projects before a works list was decided.

The most expensive project will be $150,000 for a district-wide data communications upgrade, which business manager Gwen Gardner said will streamline information management throughout at the district offices and the school buildings.

Most of the projects were derived from the facilities’ long-term maintenance plans, and include: intercom installation at Cascade Locks, carpeting at several schools, kitchen remodel at Parkdale, fire alarm replacement at Hood River Middle School, and a walk-in freeze at Westside Elementary.

Evenson-Brady is the person who likely will lead the district through these expenditures. Currently superintendent of Region 9 Education Service District,

Evenson-Brady was the board’s unanimous choice last month, after interviewing six semi-finalists including Eggers.

During executive session Wednesday, the board reviewed comments from citizens as well as professional references.

Back in open session, the board unanimously voted to enter into contract negotiations with Evenson-Brady, who served as assistant superintendent for the district in the 1990s.

The board could consider a contract as early as the March 26 board meeting, Baker said.

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