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THE TORCH:March 2005


†††† Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

††††††††††††† Kingston Teachersí Federation

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ďJust ThinkingĒ

†††† Itís almost spring, and my thought process seems to have sprung as I anticipate the new season. Here are a few thoughts.

†††† If, on St. Patrickís Day, everyoneís Irish, what are we on other days where we have parades and celebrations?

†††† The district hired a consultant to survey public attitudes on a new high school. They reported that 300 people thought the high school was overcrowded. Where did they find these people who knew this?

†††† I received information that the Superintendent in North Salem gave a ĎState of the Schoolsí speech entitled: ďNorth Salem: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.Ē I wonder if all he did was to cross out the word ĎKingstoní?

†††† Senator Larkin is proposing a bill, not unlike Senator Bonacicís last year, that would restrict the number of tax-exempt properties. In Kingston, 40% are tax-exempt and most of those are owned by the state.

†††† How about the Onteora district? Between the New York City exempted Ashokan Reservoir and the Catskill State Park, government dominates the tax-exempted properties.

†††† Will we have a new contract before the May 17 budget vote or after it?

†††† The value of the U.S. dollar is down. I guess that if one were to put $80 billion into a different property, then the value of your own house falls. Again, U.S. businesses win because other countries, whoís money is worth more, can buy it when U.S. money is worth less.

†††† Do people really understand the concept of pre-tax dollars?

†††† Arenít all of the standards testing creating training school while neglecting education?

††††† The SATís added 45 minutes, $18, and a 25-minute essay. More testing! Itís like a giant breeding snowball.

†††† A consultant is a person who presents themselves as knowing more than you do, charging you for it, and referring you to their ancillary friends. Personal accountability is gone. Just point to the consultant (if they are still around.)

†††† How many of our students who begin first grade in Kingston are still in Kingston in 5th grade? 8Th? 12th? So, how are they our students and how are we responsible for their educational status?

†††† As more new properties come on the tax rolls, assessments rise. Since the local government only needs about the same amount of money to operate on, shouldnít the tax rates go down?

†††† Arenít we all victims of the trickle down Ďnose in your businessí federal government and their unfounded mandates?

†††† How did a system that segregates 6th graders in a building and wishes to segregate 9th graders ever replace a configuration where both were embraced in a building?

†††† A moments thinking is an hour in words.

And, thatís the Bottom Line.



†††† The district is planning a change in the daily schedule at both J. Watson Bailey and M. Clifford Miller Middle Schools for the 2005-06 school year. The proposal is still in the final stages of preparation before it is formally presented to the Board of Education at their April meeting.

†††† Under the new schedule, all nine periods would be devoted to curriculum courses. Activities which are currently held during 9th period would be relegated to a true Ďafter schoolí program. There would be a bus run at the end of 9th period and another bus run about an hour after the first.

†††† The rationale for the change relates to the need of the district to provide more time during the day for academic intervention for those students who are scoring below acceptable standards. Under No Child Left Behind and the New York State Standards, all students are to show yearly progress toward scoring above Levels 1 and 2. Therefore, the new schedules will provide for more contact time between the teachers and those students who are most in need of assistance.

†††† Since all activities would be held after the regular school day, stipends for those events need to be negotiated.


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† RETIRING THIS YEAR?

†††† Teachers who are eligible for the Retirement Incentive this year and are planning to retire at the end of June must submit a binding letter of intent to Superintendent Jerry Gretzinger by March 30.

†††† 47 teachers attended a March 14 KTF workshop on retirement issues. Fred Ott, the senior Labor Relations Specialist for NYSUT, was the presenter.


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† KIDSí CLASSIC

†††† Former teacher and principal Dann Bigelow has announced that the annual Kidsí Classic will be held on Saturday, April 30 at Dietz Stadium. The age appropriate races involve kids from nursery school though 8th grade. The KTF has been a major sponsor of the event since its inception nearly a decade ago. As was the case last year, the one-mile run will be called the Kingston Teachersí Federation One Mile Run.

††† This is an opportunity for all KTF members to get involved in a community event apart from the school setting. The KTF especially encourages newer teachers, teaching assistants, paras, monitors, and secretaries to volunteer at the classic. Volunteers are scheduled for a two-hour block of time and are assigned to a specific part of the stadium. Information will be forthcoming after the spring break.

†††† This is a final opportunity to earn KEY TO FUN points for the KTF Cruise in May. Participants will receive 50 KTF points for participating in the event.


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† SURVEY RESULTS

†††† The KTF Officers were looking over the 2005-06 calendar as prepared by BOCES for the schools in the county. Itís a year where Labor Day is late (September 5) and where various holidays disrupt the schedule. The KTF was curious to see how the membership felt about supporting a proposal in the future to begin school before Labor Day. Here are the results of the generic survey.

†††††††††††††††††††† YES††††††††††† NO†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† YES†††††††††††††† NO

Chambers††††† 7††††††††††††††† 31††††††††††††† Myer†††††††††† 17†††††††††††††††† 0

Crosby††††††††† 14†††††††††††††† 18††††††††††††† G.W. †††††††††††22†††††††††††††† 11

Devine†††††††††† 18††††††††††††††† 8††††††††††††† Zena††††††††††††† 9†††††††††††††††† 8

Edson††††††††††† 21†††††††††††††† 20††††††††††† J.W.B.†††††††††† 16†††††††††††††† 27

Graves†††††††††† 36††††††††††††††† 4†††††††††††† M.C.M.††††††††† 25†††††††††††††† 39

JFK††††††††††††††† 15†††††††††††††† 13†††††††††††† KHS†††††††††††† 51†††††††††††††† 50

Meagher††††††† 14††††††††††††††† 9††††††††† TOTAL:†††††††††† 269†††††††††††† 242

††††† In any year where Labor Day is late, it squeezes the options available to make-up snow days and to ensure no interruptions in spring break. To address any concerns would require some trade offs. Itís something to think about for 2009.



Let Them Eat Pizza

†††††† The proposed MHTC/Kingston Schools In-Service collaboration will NOT become a reality this school year. However, there will be MHTC course offerings at Edson this spring. The $15 in-service fee (check to MHTC) will be charged for a three hour course, but now it will include a light dinner of pizza, salad, and a beverage.

†††† The following courses are scheduled as of now:

*March 30--Educationally Impolite: 3 hrs., $15

*April 11-May 16-- How to Get Parents on Your Side, 15 hours, $75

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Dinner out 5 times!!!)

*May 23---Faculty Lounge, 3 hours, $15

----------------To register (ASAP) go to

Click on the link Register on-line.The courses will appear along with other offerings. With so few courses being offered by Kingston City Schools, these courses will fill up quickly, so register early and eat up.



†††† Mary Locketís correct e-mail address for contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Societyís Team in Training is:



Tsunami Victimsí Relief collection total at the CIONI Building was $95.00.


†††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††HELP GIVEN:

Have you ever wanted a perennial garden, but didnít know where to start?Call the Garden Fairies (Diane Backus and Ellie Vagle) at 246-6103 or 338-2942.We give advice, do the site preparation, buy plants or make recommendations and do the planting for you.All that is left is watering and enjoyment for years to come.Reasonable rates!


For Sale

Rocker Glider with matching ottoman $75 (Multi-color grey), Hercules Polar Trax Snow Tires, P195/75R14 on GM Steel Rims $50 (Spring Sale),

Bunn 10 Cup Coffee Maker $50----Call 338-8801

For Sale


Asking $80†† Call 331-6872

For Rent: 1 Bedroom Apartment ---1st floor approx. 1,500 sq. ft. Bedroom is large with adjoining dressing room that includes 2 large sliding door closets.Kitchen with GE dishwasher, washer/dryer hook-up.Large living room, large dining room.†† Bay windows, hardwood floors, separate thermostat.Yard with patio.Conveniently located.Heat and hot water included.Some electric included.No pets, no smoking.Applications/security/references a must.$1,200 per month.Please call 336-8648.




NCLB- The Basketball Version

1. All teams must advance to the Sweet 16, and all will win the championship. testing If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable.testing

2. All kids will be expected to have the same basketball skills at the same time and in the same conditions. testing No exceptions will be made for interest in basketball, desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities. testing ALL KIDS WILL PLAY BASKETBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL. testing

3. Talented players will be asked to practice on their own, without instruction.testing This is because the coaches will be using their instructional time with the athletes who arenít interested in basketball, have limited athletic ability or whose parents donít like basketball. testing

4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept on the 4th, 8th, and 11th games. testing

5. This will create a NEW AGE of sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimal goals.testing If no child gets ahead, then no child will be left behind. testing


Thanks to Diane Morrison for this internet article.


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Editorial

†† Itís been 33 years since I was a first year teacher, but I still remember the trials and tribulations of thinking I knew what I was doing, only to find out that college book learning didnít necessarily represent the real world of education. The real students, parents, scheduling, curriculum and colleagues were definitely a reality check.

†† Now we have a mentoring program that is a wonderful support for new teachers who are smart enough to take advantage of it. Experienced teachers offer their insights to beginning colleagues and cover A-Z subjects as varied as appropriate dress to zero tolerance of classroom violence.Iím sure that mentors spend much time on the importance of communicating with parents. But I wonder if they ever discuss communicating with the public.

The public pays our salaries and they have a right and a responsibility to know what is going on in our schools. They read the paper and they keep their eyes and ears open.

†† We need to make sure that when we speak to the public we represent ourselves in a fair and positive light. You donít speak to the public?You do. When you are in the diner, movies, or the grocery store check out line, you are speaking to the public. Your conversation with that colleague you just bumped into is being heard by those around you and they are the public.They pay your salary.Would you chat about your problems within earshot of your boss?Probably not, but we do it all the time at Blockbuster.

†† Have a problem with scheduling, curriculum, discipline, a student, parent, or colleague? Be proactive and address that problem with the person or people who can help you resolve it positively.Think WIN/WIN because if you donít, someone or something loses.And we all lose if you air your problems in public.

†† And letís all take a moment to re-read our contract and live up to the requirements of that contract.I have heard people saying we donít have a contract.We most certainly do, and it requires all of us to do our best to meet its requirements.