HOOD RIVER — It was another full agenda for the Hood River County School District Board of Directors during its Feb. 8 meeting, held at Westside Elementary.
Superintendent Rich Polkinghorn began with a report on the active shooter event on Feb. 2 that put lower valley schools — May Street and Westside elementary schools, Hood River Middle School, Hood River Options Academy and Hood River Valley High School — on secured status.
“Fortunately, that incident ended with no one physically injured,” he said. “However, the recurring trauma of incidents involving guns hit home this time, and it’s exhausting.”
Under secured status, exterior doors are locked, with no one coming in or out; inside, it’s business as usual. The order was lifted about 1:45 p.m., he said. The handful of students who reside in the area of the incident were picked up by parents.
“In all, this incident passed with little excitement — which is exactly how we’d want it to,” Polkinghorn said. “I want to commend our administrative team, our front office staff at the buildings and our classroom staff for their calm and reassuring presence for the students and each other. The unfortunate reality is we practice and practice and drill and drill for these types of scenarios … We take it seriously, because it is serious and because we want to be prepared to respond just how we did last week.”
Polkinghorn also commended local and state law enforcement agencies, “not just for their diligence to community safety and their long-standing partnership with the school district, but for bringing that incident to closure without anyone getting injured or killed.
“All too often, we hear about incidents like this that end in the suspect and/or a police officer getting shot and/or killed. The skill and patience exhibited by our city police, county sheriff and state police is to be commended,” he said.
“The ability to lock down our schools and work with law enforcement so closely is not by accident,” said Board Vice President Chrissy Reitz. “It’s really something that the district has fostered. Not very many years ago, we would not have the ability to lock down our schools, because there just wasn’t that central system in place. I think it’s really important to note that we have those safety measures in place because the board and the district has made a concerted effort to do that.”
She added that the district’s relationship with law enforcement is special, “and it does not happen everywhere. I really commend the district and all of our law enforcement for realizing how important that really is.”
The board unanimously voted to accept a total of $53,580.95 in impact grants from Hood River County Education Foundation. Director of Curriculum and Instruction Bill Newton said 30 individual grants were given, as follows:
Hood River Valley High: $15,655.89 for 10 grants
Hood River Middle: $3,170.49 for three grants
Wy’east Middle: $5,294.47 for five grants
Parkdale Elementary: $2,000 for one grant
Westside Elementary: $5,521.88 for three grants
Mid Valley Elementary: $6,000 for two grants
Hood River Options Academy: $3,682.73 for three grants
Combination of all five elementary schools: $12,255.49 for three grants
The grants will be used to support educators, student-led projects, staff development and/or non-academic learning opportunities.
The board unanimously approved a resolution to renew the current five-year Local Option Levy, approved by voters in May 2018 and set to expire at the end of the 2022-23 school year. (See related story.)
The board also heard an update on the district’s AVID program from Newton, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction Amy McConnell, and HRVHS AVID Site Leader Doug Beardsley, along with HRVHS AVID students Wilfrano Solano, a sophomore, and Giselle Gonzalez and Araceli Lopez, seniors — whose reports moved many of the board members to tears. (A full story will appear in an upcoming edition.)
Pat Sublette, Columbia Gorge Education Service District (CGESD) superintendent, presented details regarding the 2023-24 local service plan, of which HRCSD is a part. The plan uses both state school dollars and local taxes allocated by the service district on behalf of the districts it serves; remaining funds are sent to districts in the form of flow-through dollars, she said. The board voted unanimously to approve the service plan.
Holmes additionally asked board members to declare a number of items — most of which are Chromebooks the district is in the process of replacing — as surplus property so it can be sold either by sealed bid or by a negotiated sale to the public. The board unanimously approved the motion.