On the schools chief, fall tax revenue vote
This summer is a season of change in the Alameda Unified School District. As many of you have heard, our superintendent, Kirsten Vital, has resigned her position as of Aug. 1 to become the new superintendent of Capistrano Unified School District. Vital has served our students and families for nearly six years. We thank her for her strong instructional work to improve the teaching and learning for all of our children. Please join us Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Elks Lodge Rathskellar for a farewell reception to honor Vital's work and wish her well in her new position!
What happens now? The Board of Education has begun the search for an interim superintendent who will be hired to serve AUSD for up to one school year. The interviews for this important position were to be held this week, and we plan on having the interim superintendent begin as soon as possible in his/her new role.
Once school has started, we will develop the process for a larger search for a committed, permanent superintendent to lead and guide our district. Administrators, teachers, staff and community members will all have a chance to participate in this process of developing a profile, a needs assessment and potential questions to ask aspiring candidates.
Change can be difficult, but please be assured that the Board of Education and district staff plan to make the transition to an interim superintendent as smooth as possible. AUSD is fortunate to have excellent employees at each of our schools, as well as district office staff who are committed to providing stable leadership. As such, schools will open Aug. 25 just as they always do -- with clean classrooms, rested, enthusiastic staff and excited children.
In other AUSD news, the Board of Education voted 4-1 in June to place a school facilities bond on the November ballot in the amount of $179 million. If the bond passes, half of the funds will go to improving safety, security, technology and critical infrastructural needs at our elementary and middle schools. The other half will be held aside for our high schools to be modernized. The reason we are waiting to work on the high schools is that our community must come together to decide what we want our high schools to look like, including whether we want one high school or to continue having two. I have heard strong arguments for both perspectives over the last few months; I truly hope many of you will take part in these discussions next fall.
I know some of you support this bond measure passionately and some of you have questions. Again, I look forward to robust discussions about this over the next few months. Please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts or questions about the interim superintendent, a permanent superintendent or the upcoming bond elections. I value all of your ideas and perspectives.
president, Board of Education
Doctors reimbursed at insufficient rates
The author of a recent letter, "VA debacle is classic case of botched care," stated that the problems in the Veterans Affairs medical system foreshadow similar problems for health care under Obamacare for all but the very wealthy. It was noted that California's Medi-Cal system is struggling with a backlog of 900,000 applicants.
In the multiyear political football of the Affordable Care Act, there was one issue that President Barack Obama was always willing to compromise on to appease his opponents and move his vision of health care reform forward. That issue was reimbursement to doctors and other medical providers.
In response to predictions that Obamacare would cost too much, there was always a willingness to cut reimbursement rates for medical services. The rate of reimbursement for Medi-Cal in California is so low that it barely will cover the cost of doing business.
There is a mythology that doctors are wealthy and can afford to provide low-cost services. While some doctors are wealthy, many others are highly trained, hardworking professionals who struggle on a daily basis to provide the best care to their patients. With the low reimbursement rate of Medi-Cal, it can be very hard to simply stay in business.
Assemblymembers should revisit vote
Bay Area Assemblymembers Susan Bonilla and Joan Buchanan recently voted to support the governor's budget, which included the use of cap-and-trade revenues from polluting industries to be used to reduce emissions. We were, therefore, surprised to see them both signing on to a letter to exempt the worst source of pollution, transportation fuels, from inclusion in the AB32 cap-and-trade program.
As a physician, I see the suffering from asthma, emphysema and heart disease in my patients, who suffer even more when they breathe air pollution. Low-income communities are disproportionately affected by air pollution, which puts them at higher risk for illnesses.
More than 30 major medical and health care organizations in California support AB32 to save lives and reduce health care costs from breathing polluted air.
By avoiding their compliance obligation under AB32, the oil industry is promising to impose even more costs on families that are already burdened with air pollution and higher health care expenses. We urge the Assemblymembers to reconsider their positions.
Fred Herskowitz, M.D.
volunteer physician American Lung Association in California Oakland