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10 More Questions About the SLUSD Health Center

10 more questions to ask about the SLUSD health center in the wake of today's SL Times article.

So the San Leandro Times was kind enough to post a front-page spread detailing the health center a little further (http://ebpublishing.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5247:city-to-loan-money-for-health-clinic-&catid=50:san-leandro-news&Itemid=131). This article has answered some of my questions, and raised others. With that in mind, now I ask:

1) Which Bond is the $500K Coming From?

It's my impression that specific bonds are given for specific reasons. What was this $500K doing sitting idle? Why couldn't this money have been put towards the issues that instigated the necessity for Measures M and L?

2) How Much More Money Does the District Have Laying Around Unused?

It stands to reason that if $500K could be mustered for the superintendent's pet project, there is potentially more waiting in the wings. How much is there, and why don't we know about it?

3) What Happens After Attendance is Improved?

Cathy states that "absentee rates are proven to go down when a district has a clinic", but what happens once the kids are back in the classroom? Standardized test scores continue to languish below the minimum state standards. The Patch is graced with Mr. Heaverl'y regular testimonials as to the extreme, fundamental problems plaguing our schools. So far there are no solutions coming from the district.

4) What's A Milder Word For Fleecing?

The mayor intimated here on the Patch how important he believes the health center to be (http://sanleandro.patch.com/blog_posts/supporting-purchase-of-girls-inc-building-zero-net-energy-building). However, according to City Manager Chris Zapata, this arrangement will be "financially beneficial to the city", stating that the the district will be paying a "higher interest rate than [the money] is earning in the city's bank account for its reserve fund". Though the reserve fund accrues at a paltry percentage lingering below 1, the district will be charged between 1.5-5% over the course of the 15-year loan. Why not just charge the district the same percentage as what it's accruing in the bank account? Mayor Cassidy, who supported Measure L (http://sanleandro.patch.com/articles/measure-l-parcel-tax-advocates-make-case), should know better than anyone that every cent the district can scrape together is indispensable. If the money's just sitting in the reserve otherwise, what's the harm?

5) Doesn't This Still Mean the Health Center is Redundant?

Councilman Michael Gregory pointed out that the students' families still have access to and the choice to use more conventional medical services. Cathy countered by stating that "complicated life circumstances" prevents some from having "proper access" to health care. A vague assertion, and I still ask why a district in a region so richly populated with free medical assistance as the Bay Area needs this facility.

6) Where's the Remaining Funding Coming From?

According to the Times article, "the services would be sustained mostly through insurance reimbursements".  So the rest is being covered by who/what? Will the district be asking our permission to divert any funding intended for classroom purposes towards this endeavor?

7) Will the Facility Even be Able to Handle the Volume?

If the facility will be primarily staffed by volunteers coming from the Alameda County Medical Center, I wonder if the district can even hope to meet the demand it potentially faces. With all the schools in this district, that's a lot of students to serve. However, another thing to consider is...

8) Will There Be Enough Volume? And is This the Right Spot? 

A good chunk of the students who go to SLHS are forced to commute (either on their own or driven by their parents) half-way across the city just to go to school. Why not pick a more centralized location?

9) What Happens if the District Does Default on the Loan?

With the district's budget in a perpetual state of flux, as well as the dependence on grants, insurance reimbursements, and an unknown mystery source, the sustainability of this project is fragile at best. It seems strange to borrow $1.1 million when you've just asked property owners for emergency funds.

10) When Did Health Services Become the Priority?

Cathy and her friends have certainly been busy pulling strings and dancing between raindrops, but why aren't we seeing all this energy and resources being aimed into the classrooms, instead? I find it odd that the district can part the ocean to get a health center but can't wrangle a single cent for teachers and supplies. They tax us extra to keep classes and burn the midnight oil to fulfill personal ambitions.

Well, there's ten more questions, SLUSD.

Still waiting...

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David February 12, 2013 at 12:33 PM
We have S-CHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program), we have Medi-Cal, we have "free" clinics, and of course if SL is somewhere near the national average, we have 92% of US citizen residents with health insurance of some sort or another. Can we say 92% of SLHS students graduate?
Rob Rich February 12, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Robert, you're right. I never pretended to answer all of your questions. I took a stab at your claims of "Redundancy," attempting to demonstrate the value of a school-based health clinic. To the extent you are seeking a fair & open financial accounting, I'm with you. The process of school financing is exceedingly opaque, and your efforts to shine light on this corner of that puzzle are helpful. I also acknowledge that there are other health care venues that teens can access. Where we part ways is the assumption that because there are other facilities, therefore access is adequate under the circumstances. I find the body of work on the topic pretty compelling that school-based health centers significantly increase teen access to health care, including mental health, substance abuse, & reproductive health services. In light of our challenges, you urge the district to focus on the the basics. Perhaps you will let us know when it is OK to start incorporating best practices? No, I haven't found that part of your argument persuasive. Not even when you mock the simplicity of my thinking with tales of free puppy dogs.
Robert Marrujo February 12, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Still nothing to say about the fact that the district can't afford it, has no viable means to make it work long-term, or any sort of rationale as to why it should take precedent over the basic needs that the district has yet to fulfill? Yeah, didn't think so. Also not sure how access is inadequate at this point (considering we're talking free health care in Bay Area). Still avoiding, still not reasoning; why are you even bothering to type if you're not going to do either? Do you think I'm not going to notice? One more try, then I'm just going to ignore you.
Robert Marrujo February 12, 2013 at 05:01 PM
The key problem is you're insisting on the value of the center but not acknowledging or understanding how that alone doesn't make it worth undertaking. Unless you think teachers and books should play second fiddle? The reason being because the basic necessities of the school district have to come first. That's your only clue, so try really hard this time.
Robert Marrujo February 13, 2013 at 07:34 AM
Haha, well, I guess that doesn't matter so long as we do "nice things" and damn the consequences /reality/etc. Pretty sad, isn't it?

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