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THE TORCH: January 2007

THE BOTTOM LINE

     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

                          Kingston Teachers’ Federation 

                                 NCLB AT 5

     January marks the 5th anniversary of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Supported by politicos on both sides of the aisle, the executive caretaker has under funded it in public schools every year. Today, testing has taken center stage in education reform. High stakes exams, those given once a year, have sparked a flurry of test preparation activities to make sure students score well on them. In this culture of testing, more than half the students at KHS will be taking the ELA exam, mid-term exams, and prep tests during the Regent’s Week. Several months from now, results from state tests given months before will be headlines in the papers. Schools will be labeled as “good” or “failing”, sometimes due to the failure to take the test by one student.

     Teachers reflect that these state tests don’t reflect the content they are expected to teach in the classroom, and the results don’t make their way back to teachers in a timely or user-friendly manner to be of help in adjusting instruction. And, many times educators haven’t had the professional development necessary to interpret the assessment data to improve learning. Even report cards have fell victim to state tests where in Kingston a new elementary report card has come under review for not translating student performance into a language that parents and teachers can understand. So, what kind of marks can we give this icon of testing?

     These exams must test what the state expects teachers to teach and students to learn as part of the state standards. What is expected, what is taught, and what is assessed doesn’t always match up. Across the country, a committee of math professionals who, obviously, didn’t understand too much about their audience drove the middle school math curriculum. And, every school district was blamed for the failures. Now, the math curriculum has been revamped (back to where it was originally). Will students do better? Will it be due to content, methodology, or assessment standards? We have to take seriously what constitutes an appropriate test and the appropriate use of a test.

     The greatest alignment must be in the federal commitment to fund education. The driving force may be in the next logical step; the dissolution of state testing and the beginning of federal testing. It’s what most countries do and its time may have arrived in America. Get ready.

And, that’s the Bottom Line.

                                

                                      KTF AFFIRMED

     At an arbitration hearing held on December 20, 2006, Arbitrator David Stein ruled that the District violated Art. III(B)(6)(a)(4) of the parties’ July 1, 2004-June 30, 2009 agreement when it considered a December 2006 premium holiday granted by another health plan that is the basis for determining the percentage increase for the Trust health insurance. The District was ordered to immediately cease and desist from basing its contributions to the Trust on the premium holiday granted by the comparison plan.

     In his decision, Stein noted that there is no dispute that the (Kingston) contract “provided substantial savings to the District in terms of its contributions to the Fund during the life of the agreement. In fact, the District derived millions of dollars from the deal which is used to enhance the wage increases received by the teachers with a minimal impact during the life of the contract.” He added that the savings achieved by the District in terms of health care during this round of negotiations “dwarfs the savings” which would have been won were the district’s teachers covered by another plan.

     The KTF was represented by NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist Fred Ott, KTF President Hugh Spoljaric, and KTF Grievance Chair

Suzanne Jordan.

Kingston Trust Fund

307 Wall Street, 3rd Floor

Kingston NY 12401

(845) 338-5422

E-Mail: KTF781@aol.com

 

January 2007

                               National Health Administrators, Inc

Medical & Dental

Student Status Updates Required

    Parents of a dependent child over age 19 are responsible for submitting documentation of student status each semester.  It is not the Trust Fund’s responsibility to remind parents.

    A cancellation date is placed on the computer files of August 31st for the end of the Spring semester and December 31st for the end of the Fall semester.

     The cancellation date is changed upon receipt of the next semester documentation.

Documentation of full-time student status can be one of the following:

1.    A copy of the class registration showing # of credits

2.    A copy of the class schedule showing # of credits

3.    A copy of the tuition bill that clearly indicates “full-time”, or the # of credits

4.    A copy of the proof of payment for semester that indicates “full-time”, or the # of credits

    The Trust Office mails a letter to the parent to confirm the documentation is received. These letters have been mailed every semester and state the dates that are covered under the documentation. The letters also state that the coverage cannot be extended until the new documentation is received.

     Registration for the next semester classes often happens in April or in November, so documentation is available prior to the cancellation dates on the computer files.

     Therefore, we repeat that it is the parent’s responsibility to obtain the documentation as soon as it is available and send it to the Trust Office.

     If a child needs a prescription before the new documentation is received, the prescription can be purchased.  The receipt can be submitted to Medco Health Solution for reimbursement after the coverage has been updated. 

    It is also a parent’s responsibility to contact the Trust Office and report changes in the dependent’s status including:

·                    Graduation

·                    Employment w/health benefits

·                    Marriage

·                    ROTC assignment

·                    Leaving school during the semester

·                    Medical disability preventing attendance

·                    Not returning to school

     Coverage does not automatically continue for the entire year for a dependent over age 19. There are specific situations that will cause coverage to cancel before 12/31. 

    Identification cards are issued by NHAI when a dependent turns age 19.  Replacement cards must be purchased via the Trust Fund office. The ID card should be sufficient information to waive health insurance at a college.  Any additional verification can be obtained from the Trust Office.

Change of Status Notification

Members have 30 days after an event to notify the Trust. The events include:  marriage, divorce, legal separation, new baby, adoption, guardianship, a change in spouse’s employment and/or insurance coverage.  Failure to notify the plan can delay coverage until the next Open Enrollment period in June.

January 1, 2007 NHAI Plan Modifications

Medical: The 3 new benefit tiers pertain to how the benefits are determined by the provider’s participation with NHAI. The tiers do not apply to any salary or retirement tier. Benefits for provider’s contracted with NHAI are determined under Tier 1.  Benefits for provider’s contracted with Multiplan, Inc or Three River Provider Network are determined by Tier 2.  Benefits for providers that do not participate with any of the 3 provider networks are determined under Tier 3.

     Prescription:  Co-payments for prescription drugs are determined by these three types of drugs:

1.    Generic

2.    Multi-Source Brand Name

3.    Single Source Brand Name

If a brand name drug is dispensed but there are generics available, it is a Multi-Source Brand name drug. If no generic is available, the drug is a Single Source Brand name drug.  Refer to the December Torch for specific co-payment information.

 

                           

     All members should have received a letter from Medco explaining the need for members to utilize mail order for any maintenance drug (taken for linger then 3 months) and any exceptions that apply.

     When the Trust first began 10 years ago, prescription costs to the Trust were $100k/month. Today, they average $130k every two weeks or $260k/month. Per member prescription costs have doubled since 2000, from $1,042 to $2,108.

     Amendments and modifications to the plan are guided by the fiduciary responsibility of the Trustees and the needs of our members.

ESP DENTAL: As of January 1, ESP members will have Dental insurance coverage through the Trust. Miriam has been working to contact all ESP that are entitled to Dental and to have them insured with the Trust by January 31 with coverage from January 1.

                                              KTF HISTORY

     To address our changing demographics, here are some additional items for your understanding.

MOORE DAYS SICK BANK: named after its creator, Shannings (Jerry) Moore who chaired it for 25 years. Members need to notify Glenn Gallagher as soon as they realize they have exhausted their personal allotment of days, not when they are actually out. In all cases, the district must also be notified by the member so they an grant payment for the days. 

HIRING: The KTF does not represent you until the District hires you.

The district may choose to grant you all of you degrees and credits and years, or they may not. Whatever is agreed to forms the basis for your employment. All additional degrees, credits, and steps for salary enhancement must be earned subsequent to the hiring.

                           LETTER OF UNDERSTANDING

     The KTF and the District have agreed on a Letter of Understanding regarding the need to provide timely crediting of graduate and in-service credits for salary advancement.

     The District will credit all work submitted for salary advancement by the last day of the months of October, November, January, March, May, and June. All submissions shall be no later than the first day of each of the crediting months.

               THINGS RETIREES WISH THEY HAD DONE!

    Members of the KRTF are an active group and they will be traveling to New Jersey on January 31 for their next luncheon and outing. Contact Don Sweeney for more information.

     USA Today did an opinion poll on other retirees and reported the following: 78% wished they had planned better for retirement; 42% wished they saved more money; 37% wished they opened an TSA; 33% wished they contributed more to annuities; 30% wished they invested in real estate; and 30% wished they used financial advisors.

     We trust that newer educators will learn from their seniors so as not to repeat the past.