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THE TORCH:  June  2005

THE BOTTOM LINE

     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

              Kingston Teachers’ Federation 

Due to contract negotiations, Stu’s column will not appear this month. It will return in September. Have a Great Summer.                

                                  CONTRACT!
     As the clock neared midnight on Thursday, June 9, a tentative settlement was agreed to by the negotiating teams representing the Kingston Teachers' Federation and the Kingston School district. The KTF had been without a contract since July 1, 2004. For the past four months, mediator David Stein had assisted the process.
     The KTF teachers ratified the agreement by a vote of 575-8. The district ratified unanimously with one abstention.
     KTF President Hugh Spoljaric stated that "The negotiations was conducted with knowledgeable people of substance at the table" and "each side was able to achieve their priorities."
The five-year agreement provides for 3.5% raises in each year from 2003-09. Additionally, longevity increases will occur in 2005-06 for those with 20 years of district service ($3500) and 30 years of district service ($2000). In the last two years, the longevities will be incorporated into the schedule and the steps will be equalized. Steps now total 24 with the elimination of entry steps 1 and 2 during the last contract. All other items of a monetary nature, like credits, that are not specifically noted will increase at the same 3.5% rate each year. Salary Schedule C will increase by 4.5% each year beginning with 2005-06.
     Additionally, the Kingston Trust Fund will have no increase in premiums for 2005-06 and the Trust will take over the dental plan at no cost to the district for 2005-06. It saves the district over $3 million in benefit costs for the coming year. Domestic partners are now covered by the Trust. Spoljaric added, "This agreement would not have been possible without the Trust. The trustees, past and present, and National Health Administrators are to be congratulated for the prudent operation of the health insurance plan. It has paid great dividends. Why aren't all districts doing what we've been able to do?"
     As a part of the agreement, the Trust will take over the dental program and all dental enrollees will receive new cards and claim forms. Benefits will remain the same during the transition. Retirees will receive information in the mail.

     Also, Blue Cross health insurance has been eliminated for unit members and unit retirees. Current Blue Cross enrollees will receive an information packet detailing their choices.    

     All members who are eligible for retirement will have a one-time opportunity to receive the $25,000 incentive if they declare in January 2006 that they are retiring in June 2006. The incentive remains for all others who come of age during the contract.   

                                     
APPLE GALA
     Apple Gala XII was held at the Wiltwyck Golf Club on Wednesday, June 22, from 4-7 pm. The Apple Gala committee put on another gala event honoring retirees, parents, community members, and graduating seniors of KTF members. Mr. Joseph Fiegoli, the President of National Health Administrators, for the 8th consecutive year, presented the National Health $1000 scholarship to the graduating senior who best demonstrated the embodiment of mind, body, and spirit during their school career.
     Retirees honored at the celebration were teachers Rick Clausi, Fred Collins, Betty Corrado, Gerry Corrado, Bob Engel, Mike Gill, Kathy Koch, Kathy Larson, and Nan Rios-Gruner; Administrator Joe Stoutenburg, ESP  members Margrit Amato, Linda Archer, Lucille Beesmer, Carol Colao, Kathy Kinsch; and CSEA members John Carchidi, Bryan Hartigan, and Valens Peters. Retirees were presented by Superintendent Jerry Gretzinger.
     Four members of the community received apples. They included teacher Lisa Hackett, who secured a $4 million grant for the Kingston Schools to establish a FIT4LIFE program that includes full fitness clubs at Bailey, Miller, and KHS; Sarah Rounds of the Red Cross for the organizations local flood relief work, especially to our students and their families, during the April storms; Sarah Urech of Benedictine Hospital for her work with families of cancer patients; and to Rev. Richard Mueller for his unending committee work for the Kingston Schools. The faculty and staffs in each building honored parents from each school. 

     Bill Yosh and Ken Brett were Masters of the ceremony.
                                   
MORTGAGES
     Countrywide Realty, the nation's largest mortgage broker, has teamed up with the AFL-CIO and the AFT to offer various forms of home loans to members. The endorsement of labor unions has enabled a Countrywide office to open in Newburgh. Members who are interested in new mortgages and HELOC's (Home equity lines of credit), especially the new concept of 'interest only' loans, should call Countrywide in Newburgh at 567-3300 and ask for labor union specialist Sal Leale. Tell him you’re from the Kingston Teachers’.
     Since rates are low and interest, rather than principle, is 90% of the monthly payments in the first ten years, the month rate can be as much as half what a conventional mortgage would be. They are especially good if consumers may not keep the property for more than 10 years.

                  TRUST MODIFICATIONS
     Effective July 1, 2005, as adopted by the Trustees of the Kingston Trust on May 24, 2005, regarding chiropractic services: In a situation where there is a penalty both for failure to pre-certify benefits and for untimely filing of claims, the maximum penalty will be limited to 50%, subject to a maximum benefit of $25,000 if the claim is not filed prior to the end of any plan year (9/30) or within 90 days of the date of service, if later.
     The amendment is actually a benefit for members. The late filing of claims (beyond 90 days) would result in a complete loss of the benefit as per the plan document. Some chiropractic claims involve letters of referral and medical necessity and, as such, delay the timely filing. This amendment limits the penalty.
LEGAL CHANGES: In 2002, a statute was enacted that required that the practice of psychotherapy and counseling be limited to persons who are licensed in the professions of psychology, medicine (including physicians and physician assistants), nursing, licensed master social workers, licensed clinical social workers, and the four new mental health professions of: Licensed mental health counselor, Licensed psychoanalyst,

Licensed marriage and family therapist, and Licensed creative arts therapist. 

The law has been made effective over a series of dates: 

For psychology, medicine, and nursing, the effective date was September 1, 2003;

For the social work professions, the effective date was September 1, 2004; and,

For the four new professions, the effective date was January 1, 2005.  **

**   For the four new professions, January 1, 2006 will be the date on which persons can be prosecuted for the illegal practice of the four new professions.  During 2005, they will have the opportunity to apply for licensure or a limited permit.

Individuals who have practiced psychotherapy or counseling have been able to do so without licensure, as long as they have not used the restricted titles or terms or engaged in the scope of practice of medicine, nursing, and psychology until September 1, 2003 or engaged in the practice of the two social work professions until September 1, 2004.  Since January 1, 2005 unlicensed individuals have been able to continue the practice of counseling and psychotherapy while applying for licensure in the four new professions, and will not be prosecuted for doing this until January 1, 2006. 

     NHAI will be requiring all the new professions to provide proof of licensing prior to be approved to be a provider under any of the NHAI plan, along with proof of Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O).  Any provider who is not duly licensed in the state in which they provide services will not be covered under this plan.  These new rules have an impact on many behavioral providers who have previously not been required to be licensed.  The new professions must provide documentation that licensure has been applied for after July 1, 2005 in order for any future services to be covered. 

Special Note to Medicare Retirees:  Effective January 1, 2005, benefits for services provided by any of the new behavioral specialties that must  now be licensed who refuses to accept Medicare assignment or to bill Medicare, will be limited to 35% of allowed charges for any member where Medicare is the primary plan.  Such provider will be considered a “contract provider” for Medicare and will not be covered by Medicare.

We recommend that anyone going to any counselor verify with their counselor that they are currently licensed to practice their particular specialty and whether or not they accept Medicare.  You may want to consider changing providers if your provider is not appropriately licensed or if they will not accept Medicare. The Behavioral Health Office will be glad to assist you in locating a new provider. (1-888-679-2400, select 3).

     If any additional information or questions are required concerning this communication, please feel free to contact the Compliance Office. (select 5)    

                                    TENURE FOR 66
     A Tenure Recognition Ceremony was held at the J. Watson Bailey Middle School on May 18 to celebrate the awarding of tenure to 62 teachers and four administrators. Certificates were presented by the Board President, Dan Gartenstein. Teachers honored were:

Charlotte Adamis, Bonnie Albamont, Ann Appa, Theresa Augustine, Gwen Bardon-Targia, Ky Lynne Batista, Janine Battaglia, William Brundage, KristineCariello, Regina Ceo, Lori Ciulla, Michael Coffey, Jill Correa, Robert Cowburn, Doug Egerton, Carl Eissner, Cheryl Finnegan, Christopher Gallo, Geetha George-Shapiro, Hillary Gilliland, Deanna Guevarra, Amy Halwick, Jonathan Hambright, Natalie Harjes, Tracey Hazlett, Norm Hendricks, Rebecca Hilton, Jeffrey Karliner, Liza Knox, Anna Koch, Kelly Konsul, Kim Kross, Amy Krauss, Nick Krzywonos, Nora Licht, Lawrence Lohman, Ann Lord, Marcel Lucchese, Justin MacDougall, Anthony Manley, Patricia McCann, Criag Michlewski, Kelly Molyneaux, Donna Nageli, Erin Nelson, Pilar Otto, Katherine Petrie, John Jason Prizzi, Rosemarie Reid, Arnold Richter, Dalienne Schabot, James Scheffel, Tara Schnackenberger, Michelle Story, Laurie Sweeney, Barbara Taylor, Debra Teller, Matthew Urciuli, Kathleen Wise, Barbara Wood, and tara Zimmerman. Adminitrators Marie Anderson, Paula Childs, Glenn Maisch, and John Voerg were also honored.      

                     

                       SUMMER LEARNING CALENDAR
     Need some activities for children over the summer. Consult the AFT's Summer Learning Calendar on line at www.aft.org/calendar/. It is available in both English and Spanish.

                    ESP ELECTS JOAN WHITE
     Educational Support Personnel President Joan White was reelected to another two year term in voting conducted by the KTF Chapter on Wednesday, June 15. Deanne Bradley-Lasher and James Habernig were competing for the position as well. Joan indicated to members that this would most probably be her final two years.
     With the settlement of the KTF Teachers contract, attention now turns to the ESP negotiations. They hope to have a settlement soon.
                     

                             STOLEN IDENTITIES
    
IDENTITY THEFT IS WHEN SOMEONE TAKES AND USES YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION (SUCH AS YOUR NAME, SOCIAL SECURITY OR CREDIT CARD NUMBER) IN ORDER TO STEAL MONEY FROM YOUR ACCOUNTS, ESTABLISH FRAUDULENT ACCOUNTS IN YOUR NAME, OR BORROW AGAINST YOUR CREDIT.
     What should you do if you become a victim?
Step 1: Contact the three major credit bureaus listed below. Ask them to send you a copy of your credit report and instruct them to place a fraud alert on your record.
            Equifax                         Experian                                 TransUnion
    PO Box 105069             PO Box 2002                          PO Box 1000 
   Atlanta, GA 30348      Allen, TX 75013                      Chester, PA 19022
   1-800-525-6285              1-888-397-3742                        1-800-680-7289
www.equifax.com          www.experian.com          www.transunion.com
   PROTECTION: through MetLife
     The NYSUT Benefit Trust approached MetLife, the endorsed provider of homeowners and renters insurance, to add Identity Theft assistance to these policies. Now, an Identity Theft and Credit Protection service is included in the following policies at no additional premium effective June 1, 2005: homeowners, condo owners, mobile homes in NY, and renters in most states. Current policy holders will receive information about this new service, including a toll-free number to call for assistance upon losing a wallet, receiving an unexpected call from a creditor, or discovering something suspicious about their credit. Reminder postcards are included in the upcoming policy renewals.
     The service provides one-on-one support and guidance from an Identity Theft expert who stays with the victim for a full year, from first call to crisis resolution.
 
                         
                                      
AFT CAMPAIGN
      No Child Left Behind became law in 2002 and it was expected that resources earmarked for NCLB would be provided to strengthen public education while raising the academic achievement of all students. The AFT has launched a national education and advocacy campaign aimed at improving the law. "NCLB--Let's Get It Right" includes radio and print ads to educate the public and politicos on how to improve the act.
     Underlying implementation issues is the problem of funding, which is far less than was promised and far less than what was intended. The AFT encourages improvement in Adequate Yearly Progress guidelines which presently fail to effectively measure progress; Highly Qualified Staff measurements; School Improvement and Services for Students involving inadequate intervention; and Funding, where unfunded mandates have been forced on states and where states have forced it on the local community.

                                 
STORK REPORT
Congratulations to Chris Sammons on the birth of a son, Andrew; to Jen Kane (KHS) on the birth of her daughter, Taylor; and to Brian Beckwith (KHS) on the birth of daughter Emily.

                                   CONDOLENCES

     Alice Tobin has passed away at age 91. She started the first libraries in the Kingston Schools and was a lifelong educator. She was the wife of the late James Tobin, after which the Tobin Center at KHS is named.

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