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HR School Board celebrates levy vote

In its first regular meeting since the Nov. 6 general election, the Hood River County School District board of directors celebrated the passage of the local option levy.

“It was a fantastic victory, with 62 percent of the vote,” said Liz Whitmore, who headed up the local option committee. “I think it shows there’s a lot of confidence in what we’re doing.”

She went on to thank each person who worked particularly hard on the campaign, including Paul Blackburn, Jennifer Johnston, John Fine, Kelvin Caulkins, several board members and administration members and PageWorks.

“Hip, Hip Hurrah, as my dad would say,” Whitmore said.

Board member Bob Danko added that thanks were due to Whitmore, as well.

“Liz coordinated the whole thing and we really couldn’t have done it without her,” he said.

“I would like to voice a thank-you from the school district staff to the local option committee,” Superintendent Charlie Beck said. He also issued thanks to the community, board members and bargaining groups for their part in getting the local option passed.

The levy was a renewal of levies passed in 2004 and 2008 and will continue funding to help maintain: core academic programs; a full school year; current average class sizes; full-day kindergarten; elementary PE and music; and electives and co-curricular activities including sports, band, and choir.

In other business, the school board was given an update by Financial Director Nick Hogan on the remaining funds in the construction bond levy account.

“We have $392,000 of remaining construction bond levy funds,” Hogan said. “All bond levy work is done and all construction company retainage payments have been made.”

Hogan had consulted Facilities Director Randall Johnston as to the most pressing need for the funds, and his recommendation was for the funds to go toward a section of new roof for Westside School.

“In addition, there has been some discussion about the possibility of an artificial turf field,” Hogan said. “If the school board wishes to look into this possibility, I propose a site-specific analysis to provide a more detailed cost estimate for this project.”

Such an analysis would consist of a topographical survey, a geotechnical survey (soils analysis) and a preliminary (conceptual) design, he said, with an estimated cost of $20,000.

In the end, the school board agreed to both recommendations; the Westside roof section (estimated to cost $600,000) and the feasibility study for artificial turf for Hood River Valley High School’s field.

Liz Whitmore recommended that the school district work with other groups such as the county and Parks and Recreation before scheduling the feasibility study, since the field would benefit all groups.

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