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with support from The California Endowment 


April 13,
Issue 49
Student Mental Health
Mt. Diablo Unified has done it, as have school districts in the Desert Mountain Special Education Local Plan Area, west of Los Angeles. They are among the few districts and regional Special Education Local Plan Areas to have tapped into additional federal funding for student mental health by working under contract from county mental health departments, according to a recent state audit.

Now proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1113, authored by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, would encourage more county mental health departments to create these contractual arrangements with Special Education Local Plan Areas and school districts. Funding under the federal Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment Program, which provides Medi-Cal eligible students with mental health services that include assessment, case management and crisis intervention, is available only through county departments, which can pass along those funds to schools by creating contracts with them.

The bill passed the Senate Education Committee on April 8 and has been referred to the Senate Health Committee.
Governor signs legislation to improve community mental health services. Gov. Jerry Brown gave the go-ahead for the California Department of Health Care Services to apply for a federal program that aims to improve mental health care provided at Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. Brown signed Assembly Bill 847 by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco. California is competing to become one of eight states selected to participate in a two-year pilot program administered by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. The community clinic services are expected to be particularly beneficial to children, teens and adults with serious emotional disturbances.
Environmental Health
Lead in school water in California. An examination of Environmental Protection Agency data found that 11 California schools or daycare centers are served by water systems that reported lead levels exceeding the federally allowable level of 15 parts per billion at least once between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2015, according to an Associated Press analysis. Most of the schools or daycare centers are located in rural Central Valley communities. Officials with the Marysville Joint Unified School District in Gold Country said water fountains at Foothill Intermediate School have been shut down since the beginning of the school year and students have been provided with bottled water. In Los Angeles Unified, the district allocated nearly $20 million this school year to remove or retrofit 48,000 water fountains because of a lead threat, and school staff are required to flush faucets every day to minimize the risk to children. 

How to handle toxic PCBs in Malibu. The issue of how to address PCBs chemical compounds found in window caulking at Malibu High School continues to generate headlines as a lawsuit  against the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District heads toward a May trial date. Two organizations, America Unites for Kids and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, have charged the district with violating the federal Toxic Substances Control Act related to exposure to PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls. The district and the Environmental Protection Agency have said that tests inside Malibu High have found the air quality to be safe.
School Lunch
Frozen fruit, salt and lots of pizza. The latest draft of the federal child nutrition reauthorization bill reportedly has unexpected changes for school meals in it, including blocking future sodium reductions, allowing frozen fruit and vegetables into the fresh-only fruit and vegetable program and permitting any item in a school meal, including pizza, to be sold a la carte every day, Politico reports. The reauthorization bill would amend the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act. The new draft from the House Education and the Workforce Committee also would make it more difficult for school districts to qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Provision, which allows schools in low income communities to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students, Politico said.
Watch, eat, repeat. Preschoolers who watched a video of kids eating bell peppers later ate more of the vegetables than their peers who had not watched the video, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Researchers said the study confirmed the power of being a role-model for healthy behaviors.

Vision Health
Can you read this? More than one in five preschool-age children enrolled in Head Start has a vision disorder, according to Children's Vision and Eye Health: A Snapshot of Current National Issues, a new compilation of data from Prevent Blindness, a nonprofit group. Nationally, 9 percent of children ages 5 to 17 years have vision disorders called refractive errors -- myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism -- while 13 percent of children that age are far-sighted, according to the report, which is summarized here. The report notes that under the Affordable Care Act, known in California as Covered California, vision benefits are included for all children. To see how California's vision screening of children compares to that of other states, click here to go to an analysis by NPR.
Family Engagement
To reach parents, schools try the universal language of data
The push for parent involvement in education is under scrutiny in California, where schools are two years into creating Local Control and Accountability Plans, an annual accountability system that requires them to work with parents to create budgets, show parents how much they are spending on family outreach and then survey parents about how that outreach is going. As of 2013, parent involvement is one of eight state educational priorities, and according to studies, districts are working to get families involved in decision-making.

In Oakland, nine mothers from Burma flipped open manila file folders in Room 210 in Garfield Elementary School and looked at information that was as foreign as it was compelling - a chart comparing their child's progress in reading to that of their unidentified classmates and grade-level standards.

Read more at EdSource.

How do you cook a delectable meal with whole grain pasta? The School Nutrition Association will present tips and success stories in a webinar "Achieving Success with Whole Grain Pasta: Best Practices From the Back of the House to the Front."

School nutrition managers will present their ideas along with special guest Chef Bruno Wehren, whom the nutrition association describes as "a master of solving high-volume food service challenges including opening the MGM Grand in Las Vegas."

Wed, April 20
11 to 12:15 p.m. PT
Register for the webinar here.
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