Friday, November 14, 2003/lk
The decision was not as painful as deciding against adopting a needy child, but in the case of annexing Mosier School to Hood River County School District, the comparison has merit.
The School Board decided this week, after nearly two years’ discussion and research, not to pursue a plan at this time to consider annexing Mosier.
Wisely, the board left the door open to renewing the relationship later. The district showed real interest in looking at every angle to see if it would work, but decided that it would not serve Hood River County schools at this time. However, it could be that the adopted child could help the parent, given geographical proximity and the Mosier and Hood Rier communities’ shared dedication to high quality education.
The proposal and the reasons Hood River schools have declined to annex are basically these: Mosier community members faced closure of their beloved school by Chenoweth School District after the 2002-03 school year. They rallied and found a not-quite-permanent solution in forming a charter school this fall, Mosier Community School. The school must keep costs down and enrollment up to continue past this year. Parents then asked Hood River to consider annexing Mosier. The district spent extensive time and resources investigating whether enrollment numbers and tax base and Basic School Support revenue figures could justify annexation and indeed not prove a financial drain to Hood River schools, themselves looking at more and more budget cuts. A huge consideration, too, was the need for expensive capital investment in the aging school building.
Hood River assistant superintendent Rick Eggers and Marcia LaDuke, along with business manager Gwen Gardner, held many meetings and took several tours of the Mosier school and enrollment district during the 2002-03 school year, and district officials including superintendent Pat Evenson-Brady continued that inquiry this year.
The school board and administration agonized over what it generally regarded as a positive, but flawed, opportunity in annexing Mosier. It ties into another hard choice facing the Hood River district: the need to build a new school or schools to meet the needs of its record and rising student enrollment. A plan for construction should happen within three years, given the trend. Fortunately, a citizen-based facilities review committee is now being formed.
The course of review covers how to finance and where to build a school, and what ages and population the new facilities would serve. It should take into consideration the possibility of eventually adopting Mosier.
Educationally, Mosier Community School seems to be thriving, thanks to the flexibility allowed charter schools, and the dedication of Mosier staff, parents and community volunteers. The love of the school and the community’s will to make it succeed are encouraging signs for what might help Hood River and Mosier become a school family in the future.