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THE TORCH: APRIL 2006

THE BOTTOM LINE

     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

              Kingston Teachers’ Federation 

                           Pestiferous Politics”

     On the opening school day of this year, I commented to all of you that I had lost much of my faith in government. This was following the failed FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina and all of the covering up, rhetoric, and political spin that was evolving. Eight months later, it’s gotten precipitously worse.

     On the federal level, it’s evident that both the legislative and executive branches of government are pathetic. Self-serving, unethical, lying, procrastinating denizens of the deep supported by self-serving, unethical, lying peons that suck up like parasites on a host. Are all of our leaders unprincipaled?

     On the state level, things are beginning to mirror the federalists. The Governor has become another George in proposing  $400 million in vouchers (public dollars for private schools) and Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D) and Senator Martin Golden (R), both of Brooklyn, have proposed $1.2 million in vouchers. The Governor’s plan would remove $1,007,803 in state aid from Kingston Schools. The legislative offering would short us by $3,023,408. The executive budget lowers state aid to Kingston by .08% and the legislative proposal takes (.57% away. The NYSUT Committee of 100, of which I was a member, met in Albany to challenge these declarations.

     As a result, the state aid package has become a big step toward meeting the needs of all public schools and satisfying the court order in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case. State aid will increase by $1.1 billion with the final district numbers forthcoming on the presentation of an accepted state budget. Plans to limit any and all school votes to a single day were rejected. Plans to reward districts that vote down school budgets that increase over 4% were rejected. Plans to maintain and expand pre-kindergarten programs by $250 million were accepted.

     On the local level, the pentamerous skeletons that abhor schools and teachers are back! This penology of pompous and pontificating purveyors of prejudice and petulance are, again, on the road to perdition. Their perspective of the schools, on a daily basis without setting foot inside makes me feel as if I’m embedded with a platoon of infantry in Baghdad. I’m there every day and their phrenetic and pertinacious view casts a pestiferous and phlegmatic pique every time their pie hole opens. They have a Ptolemaic view of themselves in this community. They may have agendas and frustrations, perhaps all personally applicable, that are not indicative of the populace and, thus, are proliferated propaganda. We presuppose, for we know the truth, but it will be necessary to preach our positive principles. We must be the phagocytes.  All it takes for them to succeed is for good people to do nothing. We have one month.

   And, that’s the Bottom Line.

             

              KTF/NHAI SCHOLARSHIPS

     Graduating seniors who have been accepted for fall admission to institutions of higher learning and whose responsible adult is a KTF member (teachers, esp, subs, and retirees) may apply for $100 KTF Scholarships May 2-May 24. Building Reps have the forms. All applications must include the form, a letter of acceptance to an institution of higher learning, and a refundable check to KTF in the amount of $30. The check will be returned if the student cannot attend the event or kept and returned upon attendance at the Apple Gala at Wiltwyck on Wednesday, June 21, 4-7 pm.

     The National Health Administrators Scholarship is open to all members who have health insurance through National Health. Applications will be available from Lauri Naccarato at KHS beginning on May 17. All NHAI entry forms are due back to Lauri by May 31.

APPLE GALA TICKETS: will be available from Building Reps on May 22. Members are encouraged to bulk their ticket orders through the Building Rep to secure a reservation. And, don’t forget to buy a Raffle ticket in support of the KTF Scholarship Program.

                                    

                               KTF HONORED

     The Kingston Teachers’ Federation has been selected to receive NYSUT’s 2006 Local Community Service Award. The award was created to recognize a local’s collective and sustained contribution to community service in 2005.

     KTF and our members donated to Relay For Life, the Pantry Drive for Holy Cross Church, the Hudson Valley Blood Drive, the Katrina Relief Pajama Program, 42 scholarships to graduating seniors, honorees at the Apple Gala, $1000 each to UPAC and the Kingston Area Library, $750 to the Kids’ Classic, and $500 each to U.C. Mental Health, Juvenile Diabetes, and the Butch Zullo Golf Scholarship Fund.

     The award will be presented at the NYSUT Representative Assembly in Rochester on May 6.

                         

                          TORCHLIGHTS

RETIREMENTS:  Add Paula Orza, Foreign Language teacher at Miller, whose name was inadvertently omitted from the March list.

CONTRACT: Please note that teacher unit members on leave shall notify the district by April 1 of their intention to return at the beginning of the fall semester.

PROFESSIONAL GROWTH: 28 KTF members attended the Defensive Driving course on April 4-5 at Miller. Pat Neher coordinated the course.

DECLARED RETIREES: Remember, if you have in excess of 205 sick days, contact Glenn Gallagher @ GW and donate to the KTF Moore Days Sick Bank.

KIDS’CLASSIC: Last call to volunteer for a two hour Saturday morning adventure. Teachers with less than ten years in the district are encouraged to build bridges now for the next ten years.

WOMEN’S HEALTH and FITNESS EXPO: The 6th annual event will be held at Tech City on Saturday, May 6, 8-3 pm. Come hear Dr. Ruth Westheimer talk on “Sexually Speaking” and meet the bass player from “Guns and Roses.” More info at: womensexpo@hotmail.com

                                                                                                            

                           HEALTH TRUST NOTICES

     Members are reminded that they are REQUIRED to submit a change notice to the Trust Office, in writing, for any of the following events. Notice of these events is imperative in order to protect the individual’s COBRA rights and benefit coverage under the plan. Whenever a dependent loses coverage due to age, death, divorce, legal separation, etc., they have the right to continue benefits for up to 36 months under COBRA. This right may be forfeited if you do not provide timely notification to the Trust within 60 days of any COBRA event.

     *When your child reaches age 19-coverage ends at the end of the calendar year during which your child turns age 19, unless the child continues on as a full time student.

     *When your child ceases to be a full time student- coverage ends at the end of the calendar month if a dependent ceases to be a full time student or at the end of the calendar year when the student graduates. Full time students are eligible for coverage through the end of the calendar year in which they attain age 23. Student status verification must be submitted to the Trust Office EVERY SCHOOL TERM before your child is eligible for coverage and benefits.

     *When you or your spouse retire-an ‘Updated Other Coverage Form’ must be completed.

     *When you, your spouse, or a disabled dependent becomes eligible for MediCare-you will also need to update all providers on the new primary and secondary coverage.

     *Whenever your spouse changes, loses, or acquires other group health coverage.

     *Whenever you marry, divorce, get a legal separation, or acquire or lose a dependent.

     *Upon the death of a spouse or dependent.

     *Whenever a dependent becomes permanently and tpotally disabled.

     *Whenever there is a change in a dependent’s coverage due to court order or change in residence.

     *Out of Area Registration-you must apply for Out of Area status before OOA benefits go into effect. This is for anyone living outside the normal coverage area, including college students.

     *Change of address—including any address change for a dependent or spouse.

     Any additional concerns? Contact Miriam at the Trust Office, 845-338-5422 or email: ktf781@aol.com.

 

                      125 Cafeteria Plan Opportunities

     The initial enrollment for the new 125 plan for coverage from February-June yielded only 32 active eligible teacher members. The full plan year will be offered in June. Here is a message from NHAI to assist in planning for a 125 plan.

     Coverage under your NHAI plan is very comprehensive, yet there are always going to be some medical and dental expenses that are not covered. These expenses may qualify as eligible expenses under the district’s 125 plan. Setting aside pre-tax dollars to cover your out of pocket costs is the absolute best way to pay for these expenses, but it takes planning. Be sure to refer to your Summary Plan Description to see if there are any limits on reimbursements under the Medical Reimbursement Account (MRA) or if it covers any medical expense that is permitted under Code Section 231, including many over the counter drugs. A good example of expenses not typically covered by your health plan that can be funded through your MRA account is massage therapy, elliptical exercisers for your eyes, bio feedback, routine foot care, and normal co-pays and deductibles.

     Take into account the possible tax savings—FICA taxes (7.65%), state taxes (5%-6%), and federal income taxes (15%-33%). Take a look at your next paycheck, total up all of the taxes deducted and divide those by your gross pay. This will give you a good idea of your potential savings. If you spend $1000 out of pocket, you could be saving $300-$400 a year in taxes. While you may change your deferral elections during open enrollment or as the result of a family change in status, now is a good time to consider elections for the coming school year. Look over the list of acceptable items on the 125 plan offering, figure out your known needs, and enroll in June. Remember, you must use the money or you will lose it. So, if you are one of the 32 who are already enrolled, check you balance for this semester. 

------------------------------AXA EQUITABLE-----------------Did you open a 403(b) TSA Plan yet to save for retirement?

Have you opened a 529 plan for your children’s college?

    Ask your colleagues about THE FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS,

                       JOHN VITA and ASSOCIATES

                                  (845) 452-5121

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