Monday, 24 June 2024

Opinion

Kelseyville Unified School District Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – This summer, we’ve been busy updating facilities, hiring staff, and preparing lessons so students in the Kelseyville Unified School District can have their best year ever.

Here are a few important items to be aware of.

Short Mondays

Starting Sept. 23, every Monday we’ll send students home a little early. Middle school students (grades 6 to 8) will be dismissed at noon. Elementary school students (grades K to 5) will be dismissed at 1 p.m. High school students (grades 9 to 12) will be dismissed at 2:10 p.m.

Bussing will still be provided as soon as school is out, and routes will remain the same. Afterschool programs will begin early on Mondays but will end at the normal time.

The reason different schools have different dismissal times is to follow all the rules about the number of classroom hours we provide for each school during the school year.

The reason we’re doing this is to shift in-service days that only happen once in a while, to a weekly time for teachers to collaborate, solve problems together and learn new skills.

When teachers have time to share good ideas, students reap the rewards. This is especially true when new teachers spend time with more experienced teachers – everyone benefits. So when you think about it, by investing in our teachers, we are also investing in our students.

Career technical education in a brand-new shop building

Another exciting change this year is that our high school students who are enrolled in welding or wood shop will take their classes in a brand-new shop building.

Thanks to the support of our community through Measure U funding as well as grant funding, we were able to complete a state-of-the-art shop building and fill it with equipment that will allow our students to be ready to work in their chosen field upon graduation.

Our Kelseyville High School principal, Mike Jones, taught welding for 21 years before becoming an administrator, so you can imagine how excited he is about this new facility.

When he started at KHS in 1992, he was asked to sketch some plans for a new shop building. It took us a while, but we finally did it. Mike said, “I really appreciate Kelseyville Unified School District’s commitment to CTE [Career Technical Education]. This shop building is beautiful.”

This 7,600-square-foot facility includes equipment currently used in the real world, and a ventilation system that meets tough safety and efficiency standards. In older facilities, when students weld or use saws, an exhaust fan sends fumes, dust, and the surrounding air outside. Unfortunately, this means heaters and air conditioners have to work twice as hard to keep classrooms comfortable. Not anymore!

“With this new equipment, fumes are sucked into the machine and filtered immediately. The same is true for the wood shop where sawdust is captured and filtered so students don’t breathe dusty air,” Mike said.

At Kelseyville Unified School District, we want to prepare all our students for life after high school. For some, that means having the academic background needed for college. For others, that means having the skills they need to start their careers.

Our career technical education program has five career pathways.

1. Agri-science pathway: Integrated ag science, ag biology and ag chemistry.
2. Ag mechanics pathway: Intro to ag mechanics, intermediate ag mechanics and advanced ag mechanics.
3. Cabinetry, millwork and woodworking pathway: Woods I, Woods II and Woods III.
4. Design, visual and media arts pathway: Digital media I, computer applications and AP computer science.
5. Hospitality pathway: Foods and nutrition, ROP baking and pastry, and ROP culinary arts.

Kelseyville Learning Academy

Another way we meet our students’ needs is by offering more than one type of education. The traditional classroom works well for some, but not all. That’s why we offer an alternative: it’s called the Kelseyville Learning Academy, or KLA.

KLA was developed for families who want a tailored schedule and curriculum for their students, one that can be completed online or via a home-school environment – or a blend of the two.

Last year was its first year and Kelseyville Unified School District Director of Student Support Services Tim Gill said the response has been “overwhelmingly positive, so much so that we had to hire additional staff.”

KLA high school students are assigned a Chromebook and those who want to participate in extracurricular activities or select classes at Kelseyville High School are free to do so, including sports, career technical education, band, and more.

For high school students interested in pursuing a career, KLA offers a hybrid academic/work-study program and an early college program for students who want to begin classes at community colleges such as Mendocino College or Woodland Community College.

For those interested in going straight into the workforce, several local businesses in the trades and other industries work with students to provide real-world experience in their areas of interest.

Kelseyville Elementary School student drop off and pick up

Before I finish up, I didn’t want to forget to mention Kelseyville Elementary School, or KES.

For the safety of our students, we’re working on the KES parking lot, so all students enter the campus by walking to the opening in the fence in the middle of the parking lot, continuing through the middle gates and on to the cafeteria.

Kindergarten students will also need to walk through the middle gate and go to the cafeteria. Kindergarteners will then be escorted to their classrooms by aides.

There will be two car lanes on the far side: one for parking and one for driving through and dropping off students.

KES Principal Barbie Gleason will inform parents of all this with a phone call and a letter that includes a map. And to assure a smooth start to school, KES personnel will be out directing parents the first week of school, so everyone knows where to go and what to do.

Stay tuned and see you soon!

Stay informed about all our programs and events on our school websites and Facebook pages.

We look forward to inspiring your children in new ways in the new school year.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

Tribal governments and tribal members have faced, and in some cases overcome, many historic challenges. But many of our challenges continue.

To merely exist and be recognized, tribes have survived contact with hostile foreign governments, plagues, aggressive federal policies, enslavement and cultural destruction. Despite these atrocities, tribal governments and their people have begun the long, arduous path towards self-sufficiency.

Just as with other forms of governments, federally recognized tribes govern themselves, and tribal leaders have a tremendous responsibility to protect their people. Part of this responsibility is to ensure state policies are clear, do not create jurisdictional conflicts, and reflect and understand the significant economic and political challenges – historical and present – Native Americans have had to overcome.

As part of our self-determination strategy, we rely on various economic means to sustain ourselves. One such way is to operate enterprises that offer financial services to those in need. These enterprises are tightly regulated and licensed by our own Tribal Consumer Services Regulatory Commission. Under the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protect Act, tribes like ours are essentially considered states.

However despite these advancements, tribes are often left out of important policy discussions involving economic enterprises and others.

One such policy discussion involves Assembly Bill 539, which, as written, would create confusion in a loan market where many tribes have transparently operated for decades. This confusion could not only harm a crucial revenue source for tribes, causing devastating impacts, but it would also likely be a recipe for wasteful lawsuits. Whether about lending, environmental protections or other policy priorities in California, responsible legislation requires thoughtful incorporation of tribal interests through clear exemptions so there can be no perceived overlap.

For many years, the U.S federal government exerted harsh control over our people, leaving us with no traditional tax bases such as property, sales or income taxes. Our enterprises provide jobs for tribal members and generate revenue to fund health care, eldercare and education programs designed to reverse the social damage created by 200 years of oppressive federal policy.

To honor the agreement that tribes have an inherent right to self-governance, amendments to this legislation must include clear tribal sovereignty exemption language. We do consider this to be a fair and quite reasonable request, as tribes play a critical role in regional economies, helping to make California a stronger and viable place to live.

Similarly, AB 642 , which seeks to change consumer protection laws, lack clear tribal exemption language and doesn’t consider the many safeguards tribes have already implemented to ensure transparent financial practices. Tribes are also subject to expansive and substantive federal laws such as the Truth in Lending Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

These two pieces of legislation underscore the need for state representatives to thoughtfully and sincerely engage California’s tribes, which are separate, sovereign governments. In the past, tribes have been offered loosely written legislative exemptions to such harmful bills that would leave many of these matters open to interpretation by the courts. We are hoping that won’t be the case this legislative session.

Tribes deserve the basic assurance of having clearly defined language that allows us to continue our path towards and avoid potential legal conflicts between state and tribal governments. We look forward to thoughtful engagement with our legislative counterparts to resolve these important issues.

Sherry Treppa is chairperson for the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, a federally recognized Indian Nation located in Upper Lake, Calif.

Beniakem “Beni” Cromwell, the newest board member for the Kelseyville Unified School District Board of Trustees. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – On Thursday, March 21, the Kelseyville School Board appointed Beniakem “Beni” Cromwell to replace outgoing board member John DeChaine who is moving out of the area.

Beni (pronounced “ben-eye”) is the proud father of three Kelseyville High School graduates and is fully engaged in helping students reach their potential.

His background includes being a social worker at Lake County Tribal Health and facilitating youth groups at various schools around the county, volunteering for youth soccer, and being a tribal councilmember at Robinson Rancheria, where he still serves.

When the Kelseyville School Board position came open, he said it seemed like a good way for him to move from “boots-on-the-ground volunteering to decision-making” where he could make a bigger impact.

He believes public schools are under attack in the current political climate, and by joining the school board he can better support them. Public schools, he said, provide our communities and our nation with common ground, common learning, and common understanding – they help everyone.

Beni is also passionate about helping native youth successfully navigate their two worlds – fully embracing their indigenous culture and values while also being a part of public education to learn skills for their future. His message is one of inclusion and hope, and he lets kids know they can create their own path.

I’m so glad Beni put his hat in the ring for the vacant school board position. He brings a unique and really important perspective to the board, and he can serve as a bridge between Kelseyville Unified School District and local tribal members who may feel more comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns with someone who shares their background and history.

Beni grew up in Sacramento for the first 10 years of his life; then he moved to Robinson Rancheria, his mother’s home, and graduated from Upper Lake High School.

During his time in Sacramento, he said he went to public school, played sports, and had friends from all walks of life. His family lived in an urban setting and did not participate in tribal ceremonies or learn the songs and dances of his people.

But when he returned to Lake County, he became more familiar with his heritage. After high school, he attended Cosumnes River College in Sacramento and then Arizona State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

Kelseyville Unified Superintendent Dave McQueen, at left, and newest Board member Beniakem “Beni” Cromwell. Courtesy photo.


“When I started going to college, I wanted to study communications so I could be a TV or radio announcer for baseball. But then I was introduced to sociology, and it gave me a way to understand and communicate about different cultures. It put me on a new path,” he said.

In 2012, after living in Arizona for several years, he returned home and began immersing himself in learning how to help other tribal members overcome not only the challenges of current trauma such as living with poverty, violence, and substance abuse, but also the generational trauma of having a culture torn away. He is especially interested in helping youth.

He said he has always been inspired by the quote, “Be the person you needed when you were younger.”

He said he did not have the best male role models as a child, so he strives to be one for his nieces and nephews, for the students in the youth groups he facilitates, and for native youth.

He does his best to live up to his own high standards, to finish what he starts, to set goals and achieve them so he can show these children that they can accomplish whatever they choose to accomplish.

To that end, he was honored to be a part of changing State Bill 164 to incorporate low-income tribal students enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, so they could join other low-income students in receiving priority registration in public post-secondary education.

Having gone to college and learned the language of academia, he can communicate the needs of his tribe to lawmakers and other influential groups. He has also developed a curriculum to share.

He is also part of a committee that has brought trauma-informed curriculum to three of the five local school districts during their instructional day. This committee has brought the needs and concerns of local tribal members so people can build common ground as a foundation of trust.

Beni will serve the rest of John DeChaine’s term, and so will be up for re-election in 2020.

Please join me in welcoming Beni to the board when you get the chance.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Territories. Courtesy photo.

Planning to travel abroad this summer? Before you go, keep in mind that Medicare usually does not cover health care services or supplies while you’re traveling outside the United States.

That doesn’t mean you have to travel abroad without health coverage. Here are 3 ways you can get health coverage outside the U.S.:

1. If you have a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy, check your policy to see if it includes coverage when traveling outside the U.S.

2. If you have Medicare Advantage or another Medicare health plan (instead of Original Medicare), check with your plan to see if it offers coverage outside the U.S.

3. Consider buying a travel insurance policy that includes health coverage.

In some cases, Medicare may cover medically necessary health care services you get on board a ship within the territorial waters adjoining land areas of the U.S. Medicare won't pay for health care services you get when a ship is more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port.

Medicare also may pay for inpatient hospital, doctor, ambulance services, or dialysis you get in a foreign country in these rare cases:

– You're in the U.S. when a medical emergency occurs, and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition.
– You're traveling through Canada without unreasonable delay by the most direct route between Alaska and another state when a medical emergency occurs, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat the emergency.
– You live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition, regardless of whether an emergency exists.
Medicare drug plans (Part D) don't cover prescription drugs you buy outside the U.S.

If you get sick or injured while abroad, in most cases you’ll pay 100 percent of the costs. In the situations described above, you pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount, and the Part B deductible applies.

In the situations above, Medicare pays only for services covered under Original Medicare:

– Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers hospital care (care you get when you've been formally admitted with a doctor's order to the foreign hospital as an inpatient).
– Part B covers emergency and non-emergency ambulance and doctor services you get immediately before and during your covered foreign inpatient hospital stay. Medicare generally won't pay for services (like return ambulance trips home) in either of these cases: Medicare didn't cover your hospital stay; You got ambulance and doctor services outside the hospital after your covered hospital stay ended.
– You pay the part of the charge you would normally pay for covered services. This includes any medically necessary doctor and ambulance services you get in a foreign country as part of a covered inpatient hospital stay. You also pay the coinsurance , copayments, and deductibles you'd normally pay if you got these same services or supplies inside the U.S.

The 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa are considered part of the United States.

Foreign hospitals aren’t required to file Medicare claims for your medical costs. You need to submit an itemized bill to Medicare for your doctor, inpatient, and ambulance services if both of these apply:

– You're admitted to a foreign hospital under one of the situations above.
– The foreign hospital doesn't submit Medicare claims for you.

Safe travels!

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Territories. You can get answers to your Medicare questions by visiting www.Medicare.gov or calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – May is Mental Health Month, and Lake County Behavioral Health Services invites you to join us in celebrating this year’s theme: “Strength in Community.”

Over the last few years, our county has seen more than its fair share of devastation – both natural and man-made – leaving many of us wondering how we would bounce back.

Studies have shown that resilience is not a natural trait; it includes learned behaviors, actions and thoughts that anyone can develop.

That said, we have an ongoing opportunity within our own community to build and strengthen resilience among people around us in order to live healthier and happier lives.

Mental health is an essential facet of wellness; however, unlike the flu or a broken bone, mental illness can be difficult to recognize. Additionally, folks can be hesitant to share their symptoms due to worrying about being targeted and/or stigmatized.

Many do not realize how common mental illness is. In any given year, about one in every five people in the U.S. experiences a mental health condition, according to recent studies conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Anxiety disorders tend to be the most common, with nearly 40 million Americans suffering from some type of anxiety disorder.

However, only 13 million of those individuals receive treatment, despite the fact that anxiety disorders are highly and easily treatable.

Depressive disorders are also high on the list, with more than 16 million Americans suffering from depression.

Ignoring this can lead to tragic results, with local suicide rates in Lake County continuing to be among the highest in the state.

Know how to recognize the signs of anxiety disorder:

· Becoming easily annoyed or irritable;

· Muscle tension;

· Insomnia;

· Restlessness;

· Feeling afraid, as if something terrible may happen;

· Excessive worry.

And those of depressive disorder:

· Feelings of hopelessness;

· Feelings of guilt, helplessness, worthlessness;

· Persistent empty, anxious or sad mood;

· Decreased energy;

· Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed.

This May, Lake County Behavioral Health Services encourages our community to seek out the commonalities we have, fortify the road ahead and collectively continue to build the foundation of resiliency!

Todd Metcalf is the Administrator of Lake County Behavioral Health Services.

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories. Courtesy photo.

If you get injured or have surgery, your doctor may prescribe opioids, a class of drugs used to treat pain.

Although opioids can be an important part of treatment, they carry serious risks of addiction, abuse, and overdose, especially if used continuously. This is true even for seniors and other people with Medicare coverage.

While illicit use is part of the opioid epidemic, prescription opioids provided by physicians can also be a problem when not used carefully. Since Medicare pays for a significant amount of prescription opioids, we strive to ensure appropriate stewardship of these medications that can provide a medical benefit but also pose risks.

That’s why Medicare has developed new policies for Medicare prescription drug (Part D) plans, doctors, and pharmacists to help you use opioids safely. Medicare is also using new drug-management programs to look for potentially high-risk opioid use.

The new policies aren’t “one size fits all.” Instead, they’re tailored for different types of Medicare prescription opioid users. These policies don’t apply to people living in hospices or long-term care facilities, receiving palliative or end-of-life care, or being treated for active cancer-related pain.

When a prescription is filled, Medicare drug plans perform additional safety checks and may send pharmacies an alert to monitor the safe use of opioids and certain other medications.

Safety checks may cover situations like:

· Possible unsafe amounts of opioids. The pharmacist or Medicare drug plan may need to more closely review a prescription with the prescribing doctor if a patient has one or more opioid prescriptions that total more than a certain amount.

· First prescription fills for opioids. These may be limited to a 7-day supply or less for acute pain if a patient hasn’t recently taken opioids (like within the past 60 days). This safety check applies only to new users of prescription opioids.

· Use of opioids with benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs commonly used for anxiety and sleeplessness, which can be dangerous when taken in combination.

If a prescription can’t be filled as written, the pharmacist will provide a notice explaining how the patient or doctor can contact the Medicare drug plan to ask for a coverage determination (the first coverage decision made by the Medicare drug plan). The patient or doctor also can ask the plan for an exception to its rules before the patient goes to the pharmacy, so they know whether or not the prescription will be covered.

If a beneficiary gets opioids from multiple doctors or pharmacies, the beneficiary may need to receive their medications from specific doctors or pharmacies to ensure appropriate care coordination. The plan will send the beneficiary a letter if it will limit their access to these medications under its drug management program. If so, the beneficiary and his or her doctor have the right to appeal.

Medicare’s new opioid policies encourage collaboration and care coordination among Medicare Part D drug plans, pharmacies, prescribers, and patients in order to improve opioid management, prevent misuse, and promote safer prescribing practices.

Medicare is committed to addressing the opioid crisis and helping our beneficiaries use prescription opioid pain medications safely. More information about safety checks and drug management programs is available on Medicare.gov at Medicare drug plan coverage rules.

Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Territories. You can get answers to your Medicare questions by visiting www.Medicare.gov or calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

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