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                   THE TORCH:  April 2003


     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

              Kingston Teachers’ Federation

                        “The Fudge Factor”

     When I give a test in class that requires a written answer based on terms like ‘describe’ or ‘explain’ or ‘discuss’, frequently, as most teachers know, the answers are less than specific. Most offer no evidence or facts and rely on conjecture and opinion. It’s written like they know what they’re talking about and some of the rhetoric is pretty good. The fact remains that there is little substance and the answers, written mostly in the first person, fail to answer the question. This is the feeling that I’m getting about the presentation of the school district budget. To date, I have not received one written document that explains why we are losing 35 teachers and 20 ESP members. They cut 5% across the board in each unit. Is that educationally sound? There has been no communication to the KTF about programs or sections or grades that will be impacted. There’s just a bunch of money numbers that were supposedly cut from a bigger money number. I don’t know what either number represents.

     I saw where Onteora published their budget cuts and community members responded to those cuts with alternative choices. In Kingston, there is no information. Remember on March 17 when we were assured that we would hear any news first and not have to read it in the newspaper. Things were going to change! With less than 50 days left in the school year and 20 days to a budget vote, and all we know is what has been in the paper. I asked for the information at the April 9 Board meeting. I gave six specific questions to the Board members that night. There has been no response.

     In past years, there was a printed preliminary budget and then a printed proposed budget. This year, all of the answers are in verbal generalities, like the student essays. We don’t know what’s cut, so we won’t know what was restored. Worse, we don’t know the reason for either decision, or even if it was a decision. It’s like trying to figure out what’s going on behind the curtain in Oz!

     Last fall, the Superintendent formed a Budget Task Force to evaluate the budget process and to make recommendations. Suzanne Jordan spent eight long Wednesday nights in these meetings. The report was accepted and approved by the Board. It recommended site and building based budget processes and that every decision should meet the vision and mission statement of the district. It’s only obvious use seems to have been as wallpapering.

     When students don’t know the answer to the essay question, they ‘fudge it’. Is the district ‘fudging it’?

And, that’s the Bottom Line.

                   MAY 3 MARCH ON ALBANY

     Have you had enough of state delays on the budget? Have you had enough of the state cutting back on their share of funding for public education? Are you concerned about cuts in staff and programs? Are you upsets over higher and higher school taxes? Are you concerned about the well being of your family and the stability of your career? Have you had it with unfounded state mandates? These are issues that cut across and affect all members of our community.

     An unprecedented coalition will flood the state’s capital city with busloads of people who care about public education, pre-K through post-grad. Public education is facing challenges to its ability to gather adequate funding to sustain the academic gains that have become evident in recent years.

     The event begins at 1 pm at the Empire State Plaza, and is sponsored by an ever-expanding list of supporters interested in supporting public schools. “Public schools are the backbone of American society,” said KTF President Stu Spoljaric. “There is an attempt by the Bush administration and its supporters to dismantle the public education system. There is no doubt in my mind that we will be looking at tuition-based high schools in the future if they have their way.  Their belief is that the government should only fund a primary education,” added Spoljaric.

     The KTF will utilize Vote/Cope monies to sponsor buses to the demonstration. KTF members and their families will be given priority for the free buses and any additional seating will be offered to any other community supporters of public education.

     Applications are available throughout the schools and require a $5 check (to KTF) be attached. The check will be given back when the bus is boarded. Buses will leave Kingston Plaza (by the old Ames0 at 10 am and will return to Kingston between 4:30 and 5 pm.

     If you care, you must find a way to be there on May 3. It’s expected that this will be the largest demonstration in the history of New York state. Be a part of history at the Marchforpubliceducation on May 3.




     Be ready to honor students, district parents, members of the community, and, especially, the wonderful retirees at the Tenth Annual Apple Gala 2003. The end of year event will be held on Wednesday, June 18, at Wiltwyck Golf Club from 4-7 pm.

     Tickets will go on sale May 13 through KTF Building Reps. Retirees and others being honored will receive their tickets first. All others should wait until May 14. In the past, there has been a wait list so, if you receive a ticket and cannot attend, please notify RoseMarie Maresca at KHS.

     Please note, there are no ‘early birds’ on June 18. DOORS WILL NOT OPEN UNTIL 4 pm.

KTF SCHOLARSHIPS: Seniors graduating in June, whose parents are KTF members (Teachers, ESP, Subs, Retirees) and who have been accepted for the fall 2003 semester to an institution of higher learning, are eligible for KTF Scholarships. Applications are available now from Building Reps and from KTF Secretary Lauri Naccarato at KHS. All applications should be returned to Lauri at KHS by the end of the school day on May 7, 2003.

     Information and applications for the National Health Administrators, Incorporated $1000 Scholarship will be available in the May issue of The Torch.


            KTF ELECTIONS

     The biennial election of KTF Officers, building reps, and at-large reps will be held on Thursday, May 29,2003, from 2:30-4 pm in the KHS Cafeteria.

     Any eligible member may declare his/her candidacy for a position by submitting hi/her name, position, requested, school, grade level, subject taught, other school district non-teaching work experience and/or community service, and a resume of previous teacher organization responsibilities. All submissions should be sent to the Chairperson, Sandy Breitenberger at KHS by May 7, 2003.

     KTF positions to be filled include: President, First Vice-President, Second Vice-President, chairpersons of standing committees, building representatives from each building, and five (5) At-Large representatives. Building representatives shall number one (1) from each elementary school, two (2) from each middle school, and four (4) from the high school. There shall be no nominations from the floor.

     All resumes will be published in the May edition of The Torch.


     JORDAN  vs. The COMMISSIONER           

    It wasn’t in a courtroom, but the audience of 3,000 NYSUT delegates was witness to a strong cross-examination by KTF Grievance Chair Suzanne Jordan of the New York State Education Commissioner Richard Mills at the NYSUT Representative Assembly in Washington, DC.

     Suzanne rose to the floor microphone and stated that she was speaking on behalf of all of the students who score one’s and two’s on state tests and that is the best that they will ever score. Mills had just completed his dialogue which included his assertion that every child-even those destined for a vocational career-be held to the state’s high academic standards.

     Mills responded and stated that he had to “fundamentally disagree” with Suzanne’s belief that too many students were being forced to take academic subjects they will never use. “Why can’t there be more vocational education at an earlier age?” asked Suzanne. “All students should have an opportunity to achieve at different levels, not just academic levels.”, she said, to the standing applause of hundreds of fellow delegates.

     Suzanne said that it was unfortunate that, at one point, she had to interrupt what she termed a “scripted response” from the Commissioner. “He was just trying to blow me off and I thought that was inappropriate.”, said  Suzanne.

     Throughout the remainder of the RA, delegates sought out Suzanne and congratulated her on her remarks. Clearly, the courtroom observers were in agreement with her position.


               THE TORCH HONORED

     The New York Teacher, the newsletter of the New York State United Teachers, has announced the winners of its annual Journalism Contest. Again, this year, the Torch was a winner.

     The Torch was judged BEST In Class IV (membership of 1,000 or more) for Kathy Werner’s byline on New Members and Mentoring and BEST in Editorial for Dianne Fried’s article on the loyalty and dedication of teachers. NYSUT President Tom Hobart and Vice-President Toni Cortese presented the plaques at a special luncheon held for honorees. The contest is administered by NY Teacher Editor Debra Ward.



     The Kingston Underwater Explorers announce their certification class for this spring. Classes will be taught by George Campbell of Deep Six Underwater Systems of New Paltz and successful participants will receive certification for life in both PADI and NAUI.

     The cost for the certification is $330. It includes the use of all equipment, classroom materials, and insurance for the duration of the course by Divers Alert Network. A $50 check (made out to Kingston Underwater Explorers) will guarantee a space in the class.

     Classes will spend two weekends, from 9-5, at the KHS pool and there will be two all day open water dives at Lake Mohonk and Lake Minnewaska . Classes begin in May.

     For more info, contact the KTF frogmen, Ken Brett and Nick Avossa, at KHS, 331-1970.




          Trust Fund members, especially retirees, were concerned about the impact of the new HIPAA Privacy Laws as it affected services provided through the local Trust office. As a result, the Trust has consulted with their legal council and has constructed a Medical Release and Authorization form for members who would like Trust Office Manager Miriam White to assist them in addressing specific and private medical information. While it is recommended that members contact the specific departments of National Health Administrators for their medical concerns or contact Merriam who will refer them to the proper department, members may sign a release to allow Miriam to advocate for them. A release must be done for every individual over the age of 18 covered by the plan. Additionally, the Privacy Laws require that if any individual is advocating for another member, for example, a member for their spouse, a Medical Release and Authorization form must be filled out. Every person’s medical information is protected under the HIPAA Laws.

     A copy of the release is printed below. It can be copied, filled out, and sent to Miriam. A separate form must be filled out for each individual and that one form will be in effect until the member notifies the Trust and Miriam that they would like to cancel the Release and Authorization.

     The Trust asked Miriam to keep a phone log over the past six weeks. It indicates that most of the phone contacts with Miriam from Trust members DO NOT constitute issues related to the HIPAA Privacy Laws. As before, Miriam will address member concerns and refer you to the appropriate departments. She will advise you if she believes that a Medical Release and Authorization form is necessary for the services that you are asking her to perform.


        HIPAA Medical Release and Authorization

AUTHORIZATION: I authorize any health care facility, physician, surgeon, therapist, or insurance company to provide Miriam White, Office Manager of the Kingston Trust Fund, all information pertaining to me or any covered dependents, regarding past or present medical or mental conditions, any examination or treatment, including treatment for alcohol abuse, substance abuse, behavioral disorders, AIDS, ARC (Aids Related Complex), and to any illness, injury, or condition that I or my dependent or spouse have had at any time in the past or in the future, up until the expiration of this Authorization and/or coverage.

     This Authorization is valid as long as I am covered by this plan or until changed in writing. A photocopy of this authorization is as valid as the original. My authorized representative (as designated below or otherwise in writing according to HIPAA) is entitled to receive a copy of this form. I understand that the dissemination and handling of confidential medical information will be in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rules under this plan.

CERTIFICATION: Each covered individual 18 or older hereby attests, by their signature below, that the information provided in conjunction with any benefits received under this plan is true and correct to the best of their knowledge, and further agree to update the Kingston Trust Fund as to any changes in status.

     I understand that I am granting the right to Miriam White, as my representative, to deal on my behalf with respect to benefits, claims, or other issues related to the plan. I hereby authorize Miriam White to act on my behalf under HIPAA rules.


Member Name: ________________Signature____________Date___


          Address: ________________________________



Spouse’s Name:_______________ Signature____________Date___


Dependent(over 18):____________Signature____________Date___

Dependent(over 18):____________Signature____________Date___


*NHAI’s Compliance Office has issued an “Employees Notice of Material Modifications” that outlines new amendments to the health plan relating to federal HIPAA laws. These amendments pertain to members’ Claims Rights and Appeals under federal HIPAA law. The notice includes definitions of new terminology that members may encounter with benefits statements and other NHA correspondence. A notice is on file in each school’s Main Office. Members can contact the Trust to obtain a copy.

*Pre-Certification requirements-See pages 20 &21 of the 11/2001 plan booklet. Pre-Certification is required for the following:

+non-emergency inpatient and outpatient surgery, MRI, Body Scans, CAT Scans, Durable Medical equipment of $500 or more, Emergency services with inpatient admission (within 48 hrs. of admit), Home Health care or Home Infusion, Prior to Skilled Nursing Family admission, Mental Health or Drug/Alcohol Treatment admissions (within 24 hrs. of admit), Diabetes Benefit program, Pre-Natal (Maternity) Program (1st trimester), Infertility Program, Any Therapy after 6 visits,(physical, voice, occupational, etc.), Any chiropractic or massage therapy after 6 visits.

Members are responsible to call the 1-888-679-2400 hotline to pre-certify any of these procedures. (See the reverse side of the NHA ID cards).

+Hearing Aids: see page 34 of the 11/2001 plan booklet. Benefits are available for a hearing test every 2 yrs., and benefits are available at 80% up to a maximum benefit of $750 once every 5 yrs.


     Taking medications on an ongoing basis? Stop making trips to a retail pharmacy every time you need a refill and save yourself some time and money. Just take advantage of the Medco Health Home Delivery Pharmacy Service, a benefit already included as ppart of your health plan! Use the home delivery service to have medications delivered right to your home.

Visit or call toll free at 1-877-STARTMAIL (1-877-782-7862) Your home delivery benefit allows you to receive up to a 90 days supply and that reduces your copay costs and spend less time ordering refills. Mail order copays are $8 generic and $16 brand name for the 90 day supply.

ANNUAL OPEN ENROLLMENT: Open House for Health Insurance, Thursday, June 12, 2003, 3-5 pm at the Cioni Building.



Wed. April 20-Teachers’Golf League opening. Call Linda Monfette 338-9455

Sat. May 3—March for Public Education, Albany, free buses, Call Don Sweeney 679-8697

Thurs.May 22—KRTF Luncheon at Wiltwyck—Newsletter will be in the mail.

Wed. May 28—Bus Trip to NYC: Send check ($20 member, $25 guest) made payable to KRTF. Mail to: Ginger martin, 180 Canal St., Eddyville, NY 12401

Thurs. July 31—Day at the Races at Saratoga. Newslletter will be in the mail.

Sept., Oct., --KRTF Vote/COPE Drive. Save your money and wait to hear from the KRTF.

IN SEARCH OF OLD FRIENDS:Anne Nicoletti, a former bookkeeper for the school lunch office located at J. Watson Bailey is now residing at the Golden Hill Health Care Center. She started out as a cashier at Chambers School in the late 50’s and then worked as a bookkeeper for the lunch program when the main kitchen was at the high school. After retiring in the late 70’s, she remained on staff as a parttime bookkeeper until the late 80’s.

     At 92, she keeps up with the union news by reading The Torch each month. She would love to hear from her formewr co-workers. Her new address is c/o GHHCC, Room A-204, 99 Golden Hill Drive, Kingston, NY 12401.

                KTF PHONES

     The KTF Educational Action Committee Chair, Sandy Breitenberger, has scheduled KTF Phone Banks for May 13 and May 14, 4-8 pm at the NYSUT offices. Volunteers are needed to communicate the message of the KTF regarding the budget and the Board of Education elections. The KTF Board of Directors will take a position on the issues at the next Board of Directors meeting on May 5. Newer teachers are encouraged to get involved. Contact Sandy at KHS to sign up for an hour and do your part for your organization. Teaching: It’s more than a classroom job!



     Building teams are forming for the Relay For Life run to support cancer research and to honor cancer survivors. It’s Friday night (all night), May 2, at Dietz Stadium. A $10 donation gets you on a team and the KTF is supporting all building teams this year. Luminaries may also be purchased to honor a person. There are representatives in every building. KTF organizer Suzanne Jordan stated that “those participants who have to go to the May 3 March For Public Education will be excused from some of the overnight duty so that they may get some sleep. It’s the donations that are the expressions of their participation.”



     In November 2002, the Kingston community mourned the passing of Bruce Burgher, a former town and ciounty historian and retired teacher. Bruce was a trustee of the Town of Ulster Library, the Ulster County democratic Party, the Friends of the Senate House, and a former member of the Kingston Board of Education.

     If you would like to honor his memory and his dedication to our community, you can make a monetary contribution to his memory bench by mailing a donation, by May 1, to:

  Chambers Elementary School Garden Fund, c/o Cori Zupko-Williams, 945 Morton Blvd., Kingston, NY 12401.

                LETTER TO THE EDITOR

     A special ‘Thank You’ to all my friends at KTF. The support and kindness you extended will always be a bright memory.

     As each of us dedicate our personal careers and lives to children, we keep a bright light of promise…may it never be extinguished.

     After thirty years at M. Clifford Miller, the decision to retire was difficult. However, having a long career, which you love, and working with scores of dedicated people leaves me much gratitude.

     Please carry on to change the lives of children…one at a time, and I will hold you warmly in my thoughts.

                                                  Nancy Hamilton



     Kent Korber has returned from Florida and will be back running his little antiques and collectibles business. He gives free appraisals to all KTF and ESP members. Call him at 845-687-7230.


EXPERT CAR DETAILING! Could a family of four live off the food items embedded in your car seats? Can’t remember if you have tinted windows or not? I can make your car showroom clean, inside and out. Call for estimate on wash, wax, interior shampoo, and polish. May 15-August 15. Call Matt at 845-338-6165.