School district staff plays musical chairs

June 18, 2011

One of the most challenging years ever for the human resources department at the Hood River County School District Office has resulted in quite a few changes in staffing for the 2011-12 year.

The budget shortfall for next year necessitated the reduction in force of more than 30 staff members. But as reported previously, through a combination of retirements, job shares, resignations and leave requests, most of those staffers were able to keep their jobs - though not necessarily the same job.

Most of the reassignments were related to the closing of Pine Grove Elementary School. Principal Kelly Beard will become May Street Elementary School's new principal, replacing the retiring Susan Henness. Going with him to May Street will be teachers Janice Webber, Hermelinda Santillan, Susan Witt and Cristina Sanchez.

Pine Grove's other teachers will be split between the district's other elementary schools, with Christy Ewald, Sandy Abramson, Jacqueline Osborn and Kathy Hannen-Smith going to Mid Valley, Shannon Monroe going to Parkdale and Melissa Sady going to Westside.

Changes at the other elementary schools include Westside's Cynthia Sischo and Luis Ziegner moving to Parkdale, and Katherine Jacobson and T Dalbey moving to May Street. May Street's Beth Hoezee will teach special education at Wy'east Middle School, and Michelle Reilly will teach music and PE at Cascade Locks. Parkdale's Candace Carver will teach special education at Hood River Middle School and Inga Herneisen will move to Westside.

Hood River Middle School's assistant principal, Patricia Cooper, will be trading places with Wy'east Middle School's assistant principal, Gus Hedberg, next year. Ron Cooper will also move from HRMS to Wy'east next year to teach special education, and Wy'east's Jeanette Whitesides will be Hood River Middle School's special education teacher. Wy'east's Judy Miller has been reassigned to the CAL program at the high school.

Cascade Locks' Carol Birdsell will move to Hood River Middle School to teach eighth-grade.

Hood River Valley High School's Esperanza Culbertson will begin next year teaching at Wy'east Middle School, and Rod Hasty will move to the district office to help set up the new Virtual Academy.

Not listed here are many other changes at the schools involving classified staff.

Another change in the works: At this week's school board meeting it was decided at the request of Supt. Charlie Beck to end the current practice of rotating school board meetings through the different school properties and instead hold all of its meetings at the district office.

In order to be able to accommodate the occasional larger turnout, Beck has asked Facilities Director Randall Johnston to enlarge the current board room by enlarging it across the hallway and using that whole end of the building - "without spending any money," he said.

The main concern voiced by the school board was keeping the "connectivity" to the individual schools; Beck's answer to that involved scheduling visits to the schools during regular school hours.

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