Eerily timed power outage accompanies school board’s decisions on 2011-12 budget

MAy 14, 2011

It seemed as though Pine Grove School itself was making a statement Wednesday evening.

Just as the Hood River County School District board of directors finished approving the motion to authorize a reduction in force - as the words were still hanging in the air - the lights went off.

There was a collective gasp from everyone in the room (the school gym) at the unbelievable timing of the darkness.

It turned out to be an area-wide power failure, but it seemed more like a message. Principal Kelly Beard stood up and said, "This school has a way of making its feelings known."

The meeting went on in the dark, lit only by some auxiliary lights and whatever cellphones, flashlights and headlamps happened to be available.

The board went on to approve the 2011-12 budget and to set the rate of the local option tax at $1.25 per $1,000 of assessed value. The local option levy, which has been helping to maintain programs and services annually since 2008, will expire in 2012.

Now that the budget has been approved, Human Resources Director Bob Dais can make final decisions on staffing reductions.

Dais said at press time Friday morning that "reduction in force" letters will be mailed to those whose jobs are being eliminated by next Friday and that plans are still very fluid.

At this point, he said, it looks as though 74 employees will be receiving some kind of new assignment or transfer; four FTE licensed positions and 1 FTE classified positions are likely to be eliminated.

He did announce at the board meeting that Kelly Beard will replace May Street Elementary School Principal Susan Henness, who will be retiring from that post at the end of this school year.

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