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School District Boundary changes in 2013?

With some elementary school classes bursting at the seams and others not so much, the Hood River County School District administration and board of directors believe it is time to take another look at the district’s boundaries in the hope of evening out student distribution.

At its Tuesday meeting last week (moved up from the original Dec. 12 date), the school board heard and approved a proposal from the administration cabinet as to what the process might look like.

Beginning Dec. 13, a work group will begin meeting weekly to study the history of boundaries in the school district and potential future boundary options. It will also take into consideration expected growth based on building permits issued for the county. The work group will present a draft recommendation to the school board on Jan.23.

The public will be given an opportunity to weigh in at three community forums, currently scheduled for Feb. 5 at Wy’east Middle School, Feb. 6 at Mid Valley Elementary (in Spanish only) and Feb. 7 at Hood River Middle School.

After considering public input, the work group will present the board with a final recommendation for potential boundary changes within the Hood River County School District on Feb. 27.

The work group is made up of Supt. Charlie Beck, Finance Director Nick Hogan, Facilities Manager Randall Johnston, the principals of the four elementary schools and two middle schools, Communications Director Bob Dais and Administrative Assistant Terri Martz.

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The school board also heard an update on the search for a new school superintendent from Ray and Associates, the firm hired to conduct the search. Consultants Jim Shoemake and John Young shared the results from a recent survey asking school employees and community members to choose their top 10 from a list of 33 qualities they’d like to see in a superintendent. The total number of survey participants was 160.

“For a district our size, that’s a very good response,” Shoemake said. “Some large districts don’t get 160 people responding.” He said in talking to various teacher and parent groups he heard many comments on how this community “wraps itself around the children.”

In no particular order, the 10 winning attributes of a new superintendent were:

n Inspires trust, has high levels of self-confidence and optimism, and models high standards of integrity and personal performance;

n Is a strong communicator; speaking, listening and writing;

n Is strongly committed to a “student first” philosophy in all decisions;

n Possesses excellent people skills, presents a positive image of the district and will listen to input and make a decision when necessary;

n Possesses the leadership skills required to respond to the challenges presented by an ethnically and culturally diverse community;

n Has knowledge of and successful experience in sound fiscal practices and management of district resources, including appropriate participation of others in planning and decision-making;

n Is able to build consensus and commitment among individuals and groups with emphasis on parental involvement;

n Demonstrates commitment to community visibility with high interest in a broad range of community groups and organizations;

n Has experience in the selection and implementation of educational priorities consistent with the interests and needs of students, staff, board and community;

n Is able to delegate authority appropriately while maintaining accountability.

A “runner-up” attribute was also listed: Possesses the ability to enhance student performance, especially in identifying and closing or narrowing the gaps in student achievement.

The next step in the hiring process is to prepare and mail fliers to advertise the position, within the state and nationally. The flier will be sent out within the next week or two, and applications will be accepted until Feb. 4.

The consultants said that they expect the position will draw at least 50 qualified applicants, which will be narrowed down by a series of interviews to semifinalists (by Feb. 25) and then finalists (by March 4).

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The next regular school board meeting will be held Jan. 9, 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 1011 Eugene St. For more information call the district office at 541-387-2511 or visit www.hoodriver. k12.or.us.

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