Education HR schools look into ‘green’ energy plan

October 1, 2005

In its regular meeting Sept. 28, the Hood River County School District’s board of directors considered the usual topics of funding and enrollment, and heard a presentation by Jaimes Valdez, of the Renewable Northwest Project, urging the school district to consider purchasing renewable energy.

Superintendent Pat Evenson-Brady’s report included news that Hood River Valley High School will begin offering space on the gym walls for banners advertising local businesses, as one way to eliminate some of the constant appeals for funding school sports. Gym sport coaches will each be responsible for finding some of the advertisers.

Evenson-Brady also said that according to Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler, it isn’t possible to get a half-time resource officer for the schools.

“The main thing is that we are unable to make a long-term commitment,” Evenson-Brady said. “We’re conservative about revenue because it’s never certain.”

For example, enrollment is currently down by 40 students, compared to last year at this time. That doesn’t affect this year’s funding, but since state funding is based on the prior year’s enrollment, it would reduce next year’s funding by $5,000 per student, or $200,000. Such ebb and flow in enrollment makes financial planning difficult.

“We typically have a 10-30 percent turnover in enrollment during the school year, and in two of the last 10 years there has even been a drop,” she said.

No one could explain the loss in enrollment, especially given the apparent boom in home building. Evenson-Brady pointed out that according to the facts she’s been given, 44 percent of residences within the urban boundary are not primary residences/owner occupied, but second homes.

The superintendent also introduced the board to a new fund-raising campaign, coming soon in the mail. “Bright Futures,” was made possible with funds from a local donor. It will encourage annual giving by residents and provide a menu of choices for how the donations will be used.

No decision was made regarding the purchase of renewable energy but the matter will be discussed at the next meeting, after board members have had more time to go through the literature Valdez provided.

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