Our guest speaker this week was Santa Clara Valley Water District Director and former San José City Councilmember Linda LeZotte, who gave a brief history of Santa Clara County aquifers and how we have related to our water supply over time.
Linda also spoke about the current drought conditions and provided an update on several rebate plans offered by the Water District in order to incentivize conservation. These include rebates for landscape conservation, “gray water” reuse, installation of high-efficiency appliances, and commercial conservation.
Linda reported that Santa Clara County residents already use less water on average than most of the state, but she noted that the district is looking for any way to improve on our success. You can visit the Water District online at www.valleywater.org to learn more. Or contact the Water Conservation Hotline at (408) 630-2554 or by email at email@example.com.
Today’s guest was Al Mabanag, an officer based in the Dublin field intelligence office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
ATF is a unique law enforcement agency in the United State Department of Justice that protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. We partner with communities, industries, law enforcement, and public safety agencies to safeguard the public we serve through information sharing, training, research and use of technology.
Today’s speaker is also a visiting Rotarian!
Lisa Huening has launched “The Shifting Path” to help family caregivers navigate challenges of elder care. In addition to being a member of the Saratoga Rotary Club, she is on the board of the Saratoga Senior Center, and is the founder/owner of The Shifting Path.
California has long been one of the younger states (on average), but our elder community is growing rapidly. By 2035, California will be home to more than 8.4 million senior citizens. Lisa asserts our state’s health care system is too fragmented and confusing for our elder population to manage without significant help from family members, which extends the stress of managing health care to another generation.
Taking Care of Yourself
Lisa presented the following key considerations for making sure you,
Health – “Put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.” She encourages people to develop a strategic plan that includes limits and meeting for all of the family members. You also need to take time for yourself every day to recharge.
Support System – “A strong individual is someone who asks for help.” Ask family, neighbors, and friends for support with simple tasks that relieve your stress. Consider connecting with local churches, government agencies, caregiver support groups, and other service providers. Also be aware of family dynamics, and consdider a care manager to navigate conflicts and find other resources.
Organization – The more organized you can be, the more time you’ll have to enjoy your loved-ones. Documents are heard to keep track of, including birth certificate, health care directives, care waivers, contact details, insurance cards, etc. Home safety is also dependent on good organization!
Fianancial Plan – Discussing parental finances can be very tricky, but it critical to understanding what services can be brought into your situation. Its also common for only one parent to know the financial details. Consider a certified financial planner as a starting point, and look into long-term care insurance.
Today’s lunch featured guest speaker Brian Schmaedick, Principal of Rosemary School. Brian thanked the club for its consistent support of the school, one of the most impacted and disadvantaged in our area. He was especially grateful to the Rotarians who participated in Read Across America on March 3, reading Dr. Seuss books to first and second graders.
Brian recalled attending Rotary meetings with his father in Eugene, Oregon, beginning in 1978. He began his career in business management and real estate, but a stint in the Peace Corps introduced him to public service and social services. After many years in the education field, he is in his second year as Principal at Rosemary.
Some facts from Brian about Rosemary School:
- The school teaches 510 students, from kindergarden to 4th grade.
- There is a preschool on site with separate administration.
- There are 25 teachers and 45 total staff with an annual budget of $2.5-3M.
- The general boundaries for the school are Payne, Winchester, Campbell Ave., and Highway 17.
- The Campbell/San José city limits is literally in the school driveway, but most students come from San José.
Rosemary is one of most improved elementary schools in Santa Clara County over the past few years. The school’s API score has risen from 675 to 835 since 2006. (California schools get a “quality” rating for an API over 800.) But the school is still not where the administration would like it to be.
Under Brian’s leadership and that of his predecessor, Rosemary has developed a model collaboration program for teachers as well as innovative intervention programs that serve over 200 students reading below grade level. These students spend one hour each day in targeted instruction. Rosemary is currently being considered for recognition as a California Distinguished School, but it is “a paradox in many ways.”
Over 50 families with kindergarden-age students within the school’s boundaries choose a school other than Rosemary. This amounts to around 250 kids per year who leave the Rosemary neighborhood to go to school. While Rosemary likely could not accommodate all of those students, the school would traditionally have a waiting list.
Rosemary staff and teachers are, to paraphrase Jim Stockdale, confronting the most brutal facts of their current reality:
- 90% of Rosemary students live below poverty line.
- 88% of students are Latino, and 83% have English as a second language.
- 85% of students live in high density housing around the school.
- The school is in a “high mobility” area — 23 students moved out since January 1st of this year, and 25 new students have moved in, the equivalent of a whole classroom turning over in just two months.
- The school experiences 50% turnover of students between kindergarden and 2nd grade.
Despite great wealth and resources surrounding the school, the student population is in great need. Low-income students, like those at Rosemary, face a number of obstacles in their education, a situation that Brian says “should make us uncomfortable as a society”:
- Low-income students miss 30% more school due to health problems
- 50% of low income students have vision problems.
- Low-income students are 3 times more likely to have untreated cavities than other students.
- A recent on-site clinic found 18 students with urgent dental needs.
- The stress of low-income life impairs working memory.
- Low-income students have heard 13M words before kindergarden. That number jumps to 26M for middle-income students and more than 40M for high-income students.
While dealing with students suffering from “learned helplessness”, Rosemary’s leadership remains “absolutely committed to the success of every child.” The staff has established a wellness committee, and the school is currently partnering with outside nonprofits to augment their instructional programming and extracurricular activities to keep kids in school and off the streets:
- PlayWorks organizes games and activities every two weeks.
- A grant from Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools has funded a “rethink your drink” campaign to keep kids away from sugary drinks.
- BAWSI runs a weekly after school program for 65 girls in grades 2-4.
- Rosemary offers insurance enrollment events for local parents, and the Indian Health Center provides on-campus dental care
- The school also offers year-round parenting and ESL classes.
How can Rotarians help? According to Brian, the first step is not to oversimplify public school problems in the context of budgets and API scores. A 980 API school is not much different from an 835. They also need financial support that the school district simply can’t provide:
- $15,000 to augment a PlayWorks grant from El Camino Hospital
- $1,000 each to provide opportunities for field trips to parks, universities, etc.
- $50,000 per year to put a parent liaison in the school 5 days a week
- $500-700 for a teacher appreciation event
Brian’s final missive to our club: “We don’t give up. We don’t use excuses. But we don’t hide from them.” We’re proud to continue our support of Brian and Rosemary School as they serve our neediest children.