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THE TORCH: February 2006


     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

              Kingston Teachers’ Federation 

                           “The Check Is In The Mail”

     Many times, I’ve noticed that when a common person reaches one of those high rungs on the ladder of success, three things seem to happen to them. First, they get amnesia; they forget what it was like on the lower rungs. Then, they lose their backbone and can’t seem to stand up for a cause. Finally, their tongue splits and we get answers from each side of their mouth, usually messages of convenient rhetoric delivered in reassuring tones. It probably has something to do with a lack of security and confidence in a strange landscape and with the instinct of survival. Somewhat understandable, I guess. I Now, it’s a very different situation when uncommon people born on the high rung attempt to maintain and to build on their position. Repeated promises that are never fulfilled fall to the character level of a con artist. A little dabbling in the truth, a hefty dose of reassurance, and another empty result, always complete with an excuse.

     For a while, I’ve been listening closely to our federal leadership and I must conclude that the aforementioned maladies are chronic and in advanced stages. The truth is a distant relative clinging to the bottom rung of an extended ladder.

     In his State of the Union address, President Bush declared, “Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility.” On February 1, the House passed a Bush endorsed budget reconciliation, 216-214. It cuts $40 billion from entitlement spending in areas of Medicaid, MediCare, disability, child support enforcement, foster care, and student loan programs. The second reconciliation will renew tax cuts for the wealthy.  Bush’s 2007 budget calls for $2.1 billion reduction in federal education funding—the largest cut in the 26-year history of the Education department. The budget falls $15.4 billion short of funding levels Congress authorized for the No Child Left Behind Act, making the cumulative shortfall $55.7 billion. Yet, it provides for a $100 million voucher program. 42 programs would be axed, including all vocational and technical programs, state technology grants, and Safe and Drug Free Schools. Pell Grants would be frozen at $4,050 for the fourth straight year and a reduction of $660 to the Perkins College Loan Program. With this ‘friend’ of the common person, who needs enemies?

     If this were the first time that the product was not as advertised, it might be worthy of consideration, but it’s not. As Governor of Texas in 1995, he promised to move state funding of education from 45% to 60%. After 5 years, it was at 44.3%. He actively opposed universal pre-kindergarten programs. He promised clean air and water and then instituted a voluntary pollution control program for corporations. As President, he rejected the Kyoto accord on global warming. He fought against extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program even though one child in four in Texas has no health insurance. He opposed a bill banning execution of the mentally retarded after proclaiming a respect for all life. He supported a bill to carry a concealed weapon in Texas. He opposed six bills during his Texas tenure that would have raised the state’s minimum wage from $3.35/hr. And, after praising teachers, as his wife is one, he attempted to raid $47 million from the Texas teachers pension fund to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy. Untrustworthy seems too kind of a word.

And, you know the list of other items. In the State of the Union address, he declared that we must rid ourselves from the ‘addiction to oil.’ No plan, just lip service. In his 2204 SOTU, he projected putting men on Mars. Both have an equal chance of happening.   

     Money is power and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Do whatever is necessary to maintain the top rung and do it at the expense of others, with no shame, and preferably with a forked tongue. The check is in the mail. We know from history what happens next.

     And, that’s the Bottom Line.

                     32 TEACHERS DECLARE RETIREMENT

         There were 182 teachers eligible for retirement this year under the terms and conditions of the Retirement Incentive Plan. The number has been reduced to 150 teachers after 32 filed for the RIP as of January 31. The retirements will create vacancies in 14 different areas. Active teacher unit members may begin submitting applications for transfer considerations. The complete vacancy list and details was emailed to members in their buildings.

     Many of the teachers submitting their retirement letters were those who were past their first year of eligibility, but under the new contract were offered a one-time opportunity to access the RIP this year. They will be honored at the Apple Gala on Wednesday, June 21, 4-7 pm at the Wiltwyck Golf Club.

     Congratulations to all!

Linda Barash, Michael Boyer, Ken Brett, Dolores Carroll, Charles Castle, Eileen DeKoskie, John DeLeo, Sandra Dixson, Joanne Donnaruma, Paul Edelson, Bill Gallagher, Kevin Hilbert, Donald Kachmor, Gail Kelly, Mary Jane Klein, Patricia Koyon, Annette LaValle, Theresa LeRoy, Simone Magarelli, Irene McInnis, Mary McLaughlin, Katie Miller, Ed Mills, Patricia Moore, Agnes (Cookie) Reis, Wayne Reynolds, Kathleen Sheehan, Yvonne Sill, Valri Simmons, Jacqueline Sittner, Allan Stein, and Brian Woodard.


                                  NEW DENTAL CLAIMS ADDRESS

     National Health has announced that their new Dental Claims office will begin accepting Kingston Trust Dental Claims as of March 1, 2006. Dental enrollees will receive a NEW Dental Card in the mail with a NEW Dental Claims address. Everything else remains the same. NEW Dental Claims forms, with the new address, will be available in all buildings shortly and retirees will receive a copy of the new Claim form with the new address with their card mailing.

     Members should have their dentist make a copy of the new card.



                                      PRESCRIPTIONS:PART II

     Last month’s Torch offered a list of the 20 most used prescriptions and illustrated the overall dramatic increase in use. It was noted that drugs are more widely advertised and promoted and that, coupled with increased costs, has produced nearly a three-fold increase in drug costs to the Trust. All companies dealing in prescriptions have to purchase the medicines from the pharmaceutical companies. Although drug companies use development costs as reasons for high costs, here are some examples of the profit margin of name brand drugs that exists for pharmacies as reported by the Budget Office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

 Drug           Mgs.             Amt.          Consumer price    Ingredient Cost  Percent markup

Celebrex,     100mg        100 tabs.             $130.27                   $ .60                   21,712%

Keflex           250mg        100 tabs.             $157.39                  $1.88                     8,372%

Lipitor            20mg         100 tabs.             $272.37                  $5.80                     4,696%

Norvasc         10mg          span                                                  $  .14                 134,493%

Pavil               20mg         100 tabs.             $220.27                  $7.60                     2.898%

Prevasid        30mg          100 tabs.             $ 44.77                   $1.01                   34,136%

Prilosac         20mg          100 tabs.            $360.97                    $ .52                   69,417%

Prozac           20mg          100 tabs.            $247.47                    $ .11                  224,973%

Tenormin       50mg          100 tabs.            $104.47                   $ .13                    80,362%

Vasater           10mg         100 tabs.            $102.37                    $ .20                    51,185%

Xanax               1mg          100 tabs.            $136.79                    $ .024                569,958%

Zithromax     600mg          100 tabs.         $1482.19                  $18.18                     7,892%

Zoloft              50mg          100 tabs.           $206.87                     $1.75                   11,821%

     As more and more consumers and plans turn to generic drug equivalents, price gouging has resulted in markups of 3,000% and more on generics. In many cases, since the generic equivalent is less expensive to the consumer than the name brand formulary, and it’s also less expensive for the pharmacy, the profit margin can actually be greater. Is your government representing you well?





     A course in SCUBA diving for students, their families, faculty and staff of the Kingston schools will begin in May. Permanent certification by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) as certified SCUBA divers is the reward for all who successfully complete the course.

     The course is designed to make diving safe and fun. You will be prepared to dive in this area from shore as well as in tropical areas from dive boats. Open water training will be done in Lake Mohonk and Lake Minnewaska. Each of the times and dates include the land and pool sessions. Open water time begins after everyone completes the land and pool sessions, and is at your convenience!

COURSE 261: Saturday, May 6th, from 12 pm until 5:30 pm

                        Sunday, May 7th, from 9:30 am until 5:30 pm

                        Saturday, May 13th, from 9:30 am until 5:30 pm

                        Sunday, May 14th, from 9:30 am until 5:30 pm     

The course price for each person is only $375 and may be paid in installments. There is nothing else to buy or rent and all equipment will be provided. A $50 deposit will reserve a place in the class.

                        “Open the World…SCUBA Dive!”

            Contact Nick Avossa or Ken Brett at KHS, 331-1970


                                 KIDS’ CLASSIC 

     A KTF member is needed in each building to sign up and submit names of teacher and staff volunteers for the April 29 morning races at Dietz Stadium. Interested KTF members should send their name and memo of interest to KTF Secretary Nancy Chando at JFK by March 1.

                                         THE 65% SOLUTION

     The latest deceptive and misguided “reform” of public education is a so-called “65% solution being pushed by the Bush administration across the U.S. The seemingly positive idea behind the proposal is to require that a minimum of 65% of education spending go to direct instruction in the classroom. The residual effect would be the elimination of other classroom activities, including health, home and careers, libraries, transportation, building maintenance, counseling, security, and professional development. Some do-gooders called “First Class Education” are promoting the idea and its showing up in state ballot initiatives and as legislative bills.

    There is nothing in the proposal to guarantee greater achievement.



     Do not call Sub Service on a 2 hour delay schedule. Call early as per a regular day schedule.

     Your school computer is not a PC (personal computer). It is a SC (school computer) and is to be used for school related work. All links and correspondence can be tracked.

     Cell phones should not be used in the presence of students.

     Keep a firm line drawn between you and the student in the relationship that is formed. You are the teacher or teacher assistant and they are the student.

     If you have a concern, always keep a paper trail and write everything down.

     Education Commissioner Mills reports that the number of students needing 5 years to graduate high school continues to increase. As KTF Grievance Chair Suzanne Jordan told him in the last public Q & A session from teachers, “One size does not fit all and your agenda will fail!”

     If you can’t go over homework in 20 minutes, you gave too much!






















                   TENURE FOR 146 PROFESSIONALS

     It was a festive evening at the February 1 meeting of the Kingston Board of Education as 146 members of the Educational Support Professionals were awarded tenure. It signifies that these professionals are strong complementary components of educational instruction and classroom management.

     The leadership component of the KESP had worked diligently for the past two years to ensure that its members had the opportunity to achieve tenure. Members had to complete a minimum of six (6) college credits to be eligible. The NYSUT Educational Learning Trust, in cooperation with Ulster County Community College, participating in offering the necessary courses.

     KESP President Joan White, clearly delighted, indicated that this was a new era for the classroom. Teaching Assistants can participate to a greater degree in the educational process and in concert with the classroom teacher. Congratulations to the newly tenured TA’s!

Nadine Alexander, Michele Artist, Elizabeth Auringer, Linda Bahorik, Julia Ballou, Lillian Barranca, Ellen Barreto, Wendy Belfiglio, Kathleen Bell, Patricia Berardi, Linda Bertone, Rita Bier, Sharon Bouleris, Theresa Bouton, Kim Bradley, Deanne Bradley-Lasher, Meghan Brandt, Barbara Braunfeld, Doris Brink, Mary Brodhead, Rodney Brown, Annette Burke, Joanne Carella, Shirley Carlino, Regina Castle, Joanne Chapman, Diane Christian, Linda Clausi, Priscilla Clausi, Gloria Closi, Rosemary Conuel, Joann Daley, Vicki Darwak, Lila Davidson, Hazel Davoren-James, Kimberly Decker, Jeri Dernison, Carol Diers, Darlene Dodd, Eldena Dolan, Janet Donnelly, Susan DuBois, Patricia C. Duffy, Patricia M. Duffy, Andrea Dunn, Teresa Dwyer, Judy Eckert, Carole Eymann, Victoria Fabiano, Lynda Feener, Pennie Ferraro, Laura Finnegan, Carmen Fischang, Cathy Fleck, Alice Frantum, June Garfman, Diana Gedney, Karen Gessner, Linda Getman, Dale Gibbons, Laurie Greaves, Gina Gualtieri, Eileen Gulisano, Carla Habernig, James Habernig, Kathleen Halwick, Elaine Hamilton, David Hannum, Jill Hansen, Rada Hartrum, Vanessa Haslam, Linda Hastings, Constance Hayes, Deborah Heissenbuttel, Lana Heitzman, Doris Helsley, Barbara Hertle, Cynthia Hofbauer, Susan Horvers, Licia Hughes, Marion Iacobellis, Denise Iannizzotto, Robin Jones, Noreen Kahlstorf, Karen Jean Kaiser, Janice Kelly, Mary Ann Kelly, Maureen Kelly, Joshephine Kennedy, Jacqueline Knapp, Catherine Kouhout, Linda Kuhar, Lynette Lahl, Elizabeth LaRuffa, Susan Lavarreda, Terri Lemister-Snyder, Tina Marie Liebertz, Michelle Lowe, Linda Lynch, Karen Madden-Dreiser, Fonda Maggiore, Franca Marchetti, Kathleen McGahan, Susan McGarril, Tami McGrath, Linda McLean, Ann Miriello, Leslie Mitchell, Joanne Mittleman, Barbara Montalto, Darlene Moore, Doloris Naccarato, Linda Newman, Susie Nicholas, Barbara Panchak, Yvonne Perry, Evelyn Peters, Elizabeth Pitt, Gail Ploennigs, Rebecca Porter, Virginia Proper, Mary Rausch, Katherine Reilly, Lorraine Rosen, Nexhat Salavitabar, Rita Schabot, Nancy Schuerzinger, Arlene Schule, Rita Scutt, Patricia Secreto, Patricia Secreto, Sheila Sickler, Carleen Smalls, Christine Spallino, Marguerite Stoddard, Hope Stoutenburg, Carol Stracuzzi, Constance Sullivan, Geraldine Suris, Isabelle Tiano, Gertrude Tomczyk, Lenore Van Keuren, Denise Watzka, Marjorie Whitaker, Cheryl Wise, Barbara Zell, and Teri Zweifel.