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THE TORCH:  May  2005


     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

              Kingston Teachers’ Federation

                    “The Pebble in the Pond”

          If you’ve paid any attention to politics in California, you are aware that the Governor, Arnold, has it in for the average working person. His major ambition seems to be the removal of defined benefits for public employees and the instituting of defined contributions. He backed off his position after our brothers and sisters in California protested in Sacramento, an event that was viewed as a threat to his political future. Yet, there remains an agenda to dismantle much of what public employees have bargained for over the years. If it has started in California, it will arrive in New York.

     Be sure that those who want to dismantle our public school profession will continue their mission. The basis of their argument will be the failure of the No Child Left Behind Act. It’s a program that on its face seems fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of education, but is veiled in unfunded mandates, political posturing, and unrealistic goals. It is set up for failure, yet states plunge forward because there is the threat of the loss of federal dollars. We in the public schools are on the frontlines and positioned in the crosshairs of those who have formulated the plan. Even at this time, with the first four year cohorts in, school districts have to address ‘failing schools’. The act allows districts to make changes in the make up of the failing school building. While the district may transfer teachers, some are taking the ultimate step in dismissing teachers. It’s being fought and, hopefully, teachers will prevail in the courts. If it’s starting in California, it will arrive in New York.

     In the late 1990’s, teachers in California were faced with real threats in their working environment in the form of gang violence. Steps were taken to address the safety of the workplace for both educators and students. Sadly, the same factors have now reached New York. While we are facing politically motivated federal and state mandates on the educational front, we will have to deal with the atmosphere within the buildings. This is the reason that the KTF has taken a strong position on dress codes. Our workplace must be safe.

     And, finally, at the President’s Meeting of the NYSUT Representative Assembly, I took a strong position in advocating for relief from the overkill on testing mandates in New York, all, again, driven by the NCLBA. I was disappointed in the administrative answer. NYSUT wants to cooperate with the Commissioner and with the Board of Regents. With a weak Commissioner, we are going nowhere. So, it was with a sense of justice that I saw that the NEA has led my fight. In seven states, suits have been filed against the federal government, the US Education Department, and the NCLBA. There is a clause in the act that allows states to not carry out the act if it is not properly funded. You’d think someone in New York would have responded to our concerns, discovered it, and advocated for us. Perhaps, like all pebbles in the California pond, they were waiting for the ripples to reach New York.

     Watch the pebbles in the California pond, and you’ll be better prepared for the ripples that hit New York.

    And, that’s the Bottom Line.


                   KTF PROPOSES DRESS CODE

     The KTF Board of Directors unanimously accepted a KTF proposal for a Dress Code for the Kingston Schools. The Dress Code proposal has been presented to the district for review and, if accepted, will replace current dress code policy in section 5300 of the district policy book.

     KTF President Hugh Spoljaric stated, “the KTF developed the Dress Code to address issues in the workplace that affect the safety, welfare, and learning environment and to promote a positive, psychologically safe, and appropriate learning environment.” He added, “the a prominence of gang activity and gang accessories creates a material and substantial disruption to education. The school environment is being used as a platform for the mainstreaming and advancement of the gang agenda. It will not happen on our watch! It’s unfortunate the liberty interests need to be enumerated.”

     Building Reps have a copy of the draft document.



                              KTF ELECTIONS

    The bi-annual election of members of the KTF Board of Directors will be held on Tuesday, May 24, 2:30-4 pm in the KHS Cafeteria. Linda Still of KHS is the Election Chair. All candidates are listed on the ballot. All KTF members can vote for all offices except Building Rep, where only the members of each school may vote for each respective rep. A complete list of candidates and their resumes are published in this edition of The Torch.

     Results will be published in the June edition of The Torch.

                                 KTF CANDIDATES 

                                  Officers and Chairperson

*President:  Hugh M. Spoljaric

Past President:  1991-present; Building Rep. Miller Middle School 1983-1988; Delegate NYSUT/AFT 1991- present; Soc. Stud. Teacher 1969 – present; Project CAPABLE, law-related education 1984 – present;  Fellowship Award, Harvard 1998, 1999,; Northeastern Univ., Utah St., Univ. Missouri; Delegate, Constitutional Rights Foundation 2001, Congressional Dist. Rep 1999-present

*1st Vice-President:  Lauri J. Naccarato

English teacher:  KHS 1998 – present,  Miller 1988 – 98; At-Large Rep. KTF 1995 – 99; Delegate (alt.) to RA 1998-00, 02–05; Delegate to AFT 2000-02-04; Apple Gala Comm. 1997 – 2005; KTF Scholarship Comm. 1999- 2005; Prof. Dev. KTF 1999 – 2003; Mentoring Comm. 2000- 2005; Mentor Teacher 2001 – 2005; Prof. Prac. Comm. 1999 – 2005; CDEP and PDP Comm. 2000 – 2005; Secretary KTF 2000 – 2003; First V.P. KTF 2004 – present; KHS Character Education Comm. 2003 – 2004; KHS Jefferson Comm. 2003 – present; KHS Class Advisor 1999 – 2005.

*2nd Vice-President:  Kathy Werner

Reading teacher: Edson and Meagher 1995 – 96, Zena 1996 – present; English teacher: Miller Middle School 1990–92, J.Watson Bailey 1991– 92; KTF Second V.P. 2001-05; Negotiations Committee 2000-01, 2004-05; Delegate (alt.) 2001; Delegate to RA 2002-05; Apple Gala Committee 2000-05; CDEP Committee 2002-05; 1000 Book Kid Club; Columnist for the Sullivan County Democrat 1978 – present.

*Grievance Chairperson: Suzanne Jordan

Grievance Chairperson 2001 – present; KTF Offices held:  2nd Vice-President for Elementary, Member-at-Large, Building Rep. Chairperson of KTF Blood Drive (since inception), Co-Chair of Relay for Life Team, 1996 – present. Employee of Kingston City Schools since 1973; Sp. Ed. teacher: K – 12 and end, 5th, 6th grade-GW and JWB.

*Corresponding Secretary:  Nancy Chando

John F. Kennedy Elementary School: first-grade teacher; Delegate (alt.) to the RA, two years; Delegate to the RA, two years; Served ten years as KTF Building Rep. for JFK; Served two years as KTF Secretary: Sept. 2003 – June 2005.

*Treasurer: Eric Koch

Current Treasurer; KHS Math teacher, 8 yrs.; Math Department Lead Teacher; Class of 2005 Advisor; Trustee: Kingston Trust Fund; Mentor  2 yrs.; Volunteer: Wrestling coach.

*Membership Secretary:  Mary McLaughlin

Middle school math teacher for 34 years; Membership Secretary since 1982.

*Communications Officer: Dianne Fried

Elementary teacher:  33 years  K – 6;  RR; Math Lab, Gifted Ed.; KTF Communications Officer past 10 years; Editor of The TORCH past 10 years; Former Member CDEP Comm.; PDP Comm.; Former Member KALP Comm.; Social Studies Comm.; Negotiating Team for 2 contracts; NYSUT RA Delegate/Alternate past 10 years; AFT RA Delegate: 2000, 2004; Past Member of BLT, BLT Facilitator; DLT: DLT Elementary Chair; Compute Com.; Crisis- Com. Co-Chair; Former Co-Chair Relay for Life; Current In-Service Provider for Mid-Hudson Teacher Center and NYSUT Learning Trust.

*Sick Day Bank Chairperson:  Glenn Gallagher

Elementary teacher for 13 years; Original Trustee of the Kingston Trust Fund; Treasurer of the Trust Fund; KTF Building Rep.; Chairperson for New Members; Sick Day Bank Chairperson for the past 5 years.

                                      AT-LARGE REPRESENTATIVES

*Diane Nowicki: Current At-Large Representative (Ulster County Jail); Speech Pathologist Chambers Elementary; Past Building Rep. for Chambers; Past member of KTF Negotiating Team, Relay for Life Captain.

*Jeanne Roper: Current KTF At-Large Rep.; R.N. and School Nurse Teacher with 16 yrs. of experience in the district; District Head Nurse since 1999; Member: Delta Kappa Gamma International, NYS Association of School Nurses, National Association of School Nurses;  Vice-President of the Ulster County School Nurses Association.

*Vincent Voerg:  KTF 1st Vice-President 1991 – 2003;  KTF VOTE/COPE Coordinator 1998 – 2004; KCS Safety Committee; KTF Core Representative 1999 – 2003; KTF At-Large Representative  2003 – present; KHS English Teacher: 1978 – present.

*Deborah Wilcox: Speech Therapist/Teacher of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped since 1990; Phone Bank, Volunteer 10 years and Chair 2002-present, ; Member of the Apple Gala Committee 1997 – present.                                                          

                                    ELEMENTARY BUILDING REPS:

*Anna Devine Building Representative: Vicki Sellers

Teacher:  1st and 2nd grade for 15 years; Current Building Rep.; Former Early Childhood Comm. Member; Former BLT Member; Science Curriculum-Writing Team.

*Chambers Elementary School Building Representative: Bonnie Stefanko

Teacher 27 yrs: Elementary and Special Education; Building Rep. 5 yrs.

*Crosby School Building Representative:  Catherine A. Magarelli

Active Member of KTF for over 30 yrs.; Previous: KTF At-Large Rep.,

Communications Chair; attended several NYSUT RA’s; Teacher for 36 years; Student Review Comm.-Crosby 5+ years; Hospitality Chair for district-wide Reading Dept.; Hospitality at Crosby; BLT Comm. with three principals at Crosby; PTA Member, Onteora Schools; Involved with Woodstock Soccer League, Catskill Ballet Theatre, and the Shandaken Theatrical Society.

*Crosby School Building Representative:  Paul Nichols

KTF Experience:  Current Building Rep.; Alternate KTF Negotiating Team (1991 – 1992); KTF Biennial Elections Chairperson (1993); NYSUT Summer Leadership Conference participant (past 2 yrs.); NYSUT RA (alt.) 2 yrs.; KTF Trustee and Secretary (served a two-year term during the Trust’s inception, 1997 – 1999); Volunteer/Participant in various KTF initiatives: Blood Drive, Kids’ Classic, Phone Banks, Rip Van Winkle Cruise.  Also Served or Serve on Reading Advisory Board, Early Literacy Committee, Elementary Report Card Committee, Kingston City Schools’ Professional Development Plan (PDP) Comm.

*Edson Elementary School Building Representative: Claire Van Valkenburgh

First grade teacher; Trustee Kingston Trust Fund 1998 – 2001; KTF At-Large Member 1999 – 2004; KTF Building Rep. 2004 – present.

* George Washington Building Representative: Frank Passante

Building Rep. past 2 years; Past BLT Member; Kids Classic; TOPS mentor; Coach: Girls’ basketball and softball coach; P.E. teacher for 7 yrs.

*Robert Graves Elementary School Building Representative: Jeanne Stoico

Teacher at Graves for 22 years; BLT Facilitator; Head-teacher;Building Rep.,1998-present

*J.F. Kennedy School Building Representative:  Mary Ellen Fuoco

Teacher: 2nd grade; J.F.K. Building Rep. 2004 – 2005

*Meagher Elementary School Building Representative: Cori Allen

Third-grade teacher; Eleven years of service with Kingston City Schools:  taught in five elementary schools and one middle school; KFT Phone Bank for several years.

*Myer Elementary School Building Representative:  Dale Spencer

Teacher (Primary and Art) for 14 years; Current Building Rep. (past 2 years).

*Sophie Finn Elementary School Representative: Karen Clegg

Special Education teacher for 11 years; Current Building Rep. (past 2 years).

*Zena School Building Representative: Katie Miller

Teacher: Grade 4; KTF Building Rep. 17 years; Zena Building Comm. MST – Health and Safety; Playground, Planning, Facilities Comm.; Past BLT Member for 2 terms, DLT; Former CDEP and KALP Member; Present Comm. for Professional Practices, Professional Development; Present Member Safety Comm.


*J.W.Bailey Middle School Building Representative: Joanne Donnaruma

Kingston Teacher 35 years; Build. Rep. for over 10 years; Graduate of SUNY New Paltz.

*J.W.Bailey Middle School Building Representative:  Paul Edelson

Current Building Rep. for JWB

*M. Clifford Miller Middle School:  Bruce Cobb

Teacher for 5 years: Science and ELA and Reading.  Building Rep. for 3 years; Served on:  ELA Curriculum Mapping Comm.; Character Education Comm.; Lighthouse Technology Grant; Current Advisor to School Newspaper; Co-Advisor for the Miller Environmental Club; Involved in KALP Opus 40 trip.

*M. Clifford Miller Middle School: Pat Neher

Teacher: English, 8th grade; Member of Professional Practices Comm. 1993 – present; KTF Rep.- Miller Middle School 1995 – present; Member of the Comprehensive District Education Plan Comm. 1999 – present; Mentoring Program Director, Kingston Schools  2000 – present; KTF Professional Growth Chair  2000 – present.


*Kingston High School Building Representative: Nick Avossa

KTF Member and Teacher since 1988; 1998 – present:  KTF Building Rep at KHS and Attended RA Conference;  2000- present Chairman of KTF Healthy Schools Comm. and Attended Conferences on Indoor Air Quality and Mold.

*Kingston High School Building Representative: Jean McGarry

Kingston Special Education/Social Studies teacher -27 years; KHS Building Representative-10 years.

*Kingston High School Building Representative: James F. Mooney

Social Studies Teacher for JWB and KHS (1996-present); Faculty Advisor for KHS Ski Club; People’s Place Board of Directors and Relay Committee 1997 – 2000; Knights of Columbus (3rd Degree Warden and 4th Degree Knight) 1999 – present;  Sons of the American Legion Post #150, 1999 – present;  Set construction for various community theatre; Participant in Jamnesty Concert (sponsored by Amnesty International).

*Kingston High School Building Representative:  Mary J. Reiss

Kingston 1999-present: Earth Science, Biology, Physical Skills, General Science, Science Teacher: Hunter/Tannersville School 1998; Director of Education-The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development  1997- 1998;  Manager-organized volunteer group on specific events for management training course,1986 – 1989; Masters Program in Behavioral Sciences: Negotiation and Conflict Management; BA Environmental Geology and Secondary Education: Cum Laude SUNY New Paltz  1993; Ski Instructor: Belleayre Mountain 1998 – present; Aikido- currently working for 4th Que; Sailing Instruction  1993 – 1999; US Coast Guard Captain’s license ( 25 ton, sailing); Shared Decision Making Task Force;  Apprentice Boat Builder.

*Kingston High School Building Representative: Lawrence R. Terwilliger

Social Studies Teacher:  KHS 1998 – present; Investment Banker and Financial Analyst

1985 – 1992; Vice-President: Commercial Lending, Key Bank 1992 – 1996;  M.S. Education:  SUNY New Paltz 2003; CAS Business and Finance: SUNY Buffalo 1993; B.A. Economics SUNY Albany 1985;  Former Board of Directors: Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Ulster County;  Former Member/Bd. of Dir. Kingston Kiwanis Club; KHS J.V. Soccer Coach:  Girls’ (2 yrs.), Boys’ (3 yrs.);  KHS Mock Trial Coach: Asst. 3 yrs.; Head 2 yrs. 


                    BUDGET/BOARD VOTE—MAY 17

     KTF members are reminded to vote in their school district elections on Tuesday, May 17 and to vote YES in support of their schools. If you don’t know where to vote contact the district offices. Any voter who has voted in the general election from the same residential address is pre-registered.

    The Kingston budget increase has been limited to under 7% due to the additional state aid produced by an on-time budget in Albany. Kingston Schools will receive an increase of 12.44%, about $4.2 million in additional aid for the 2005-06 school year.


                      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 6-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 $25. The check will be returned upon attendance at the Apple Gala at Wiltwyck on Wednesday, June 22, 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 20. All NHAI entry forms are due back to Lauri by June 10.

APPLE GALA TICKETS: will be available from Building Reps on May 16. Members are encouraged to bulk their ticket orders through the Building Rep to secure a reservation.




     At the NYSUT RA in NYC last month, the KTF received three plaques from NYSUT, Two were for the KTF Tsunami Relief Fund where the Kingston members contributed the second highest amount in the state. “A tremendous accomplishment and a wonderful honor for all of the Federation members from Kingston”, said newly elected NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi. Additionally, the KTF received the NYSUT Community Service Award for the various activities and events that KTF members participate in during the year.

     Lastly, the American Cancer Society presented Suzanne Jordan with a table plaque recognizing the KTF for 10 years of participation in the Relay For Life. Suzanne will again chair this years RELAY FOR LIFE. It’s an ‘all nighter’ on June 11 ending at 5:30am June 12. Building Reps will collect donations with the standard being $10. Members are encouraged to participate through the KTF (contact Suzanne @ JWB) or through their school, many of which have always had their own teams.



     Physical Education teacher Lisa Hackett was instrumental in securing a federally funded PEP Grant for the Kingston Schools. The grant has provided every middle school and KHS with a complete health club of exercise machines as a part of the FIT4LIFE PROGRAM. This year, the President’s budget does not include PEP Grant funding. Lisa was selected by the nationally recognized FIT4LIFE Program to testify before Congress on the benefits of the program. Her testimony on Wednesday, May 4 was supplemented by an appearance in NYC by Gov. Huckabee of Arkansas and former President Bill Clinton, both of whom championed the need to address childhood obesity.

     The FIT4LIFE model has produced 15 years of positive data at schools in Naperville, IL. Students who have physical education every day, who use the individual challenges presented, and eat healthy have seen positive increases in their school subjects. The results have been so pronounced that Naperville Schools view Physical Education as an academic area necessary to balance physical fitness with mental fitness.


                            MENTOR RECEPTION

     The Mentorship Program, pioneered by the KTF, has been another great success. Again this year, the district will honor all Mentors with a reception. The event, coordinated by Marystephanie Corsones, will be held at the Business Resource Center on May 19, 3:30-5 pm.



     The KTF Teacher Negotiating Team held two meeting with the district (one with the mediator present) during April. Issues of a compensatory nature were initially presented and discussed at the second meeting, which went from 3pm to 12 midnight. The team is meeting next week and a scheduled meeting with the mediator is set for the third week in May.

     At the meeting with potential retirees at JWB, a question was raised regarding taxes on pensions. Fred Ott, the NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist who presented, wanted to clarify a point. There are no NYS taxes taken out of a members retirement pension check. Fred thought that the question was about ‘pension annuities’ where there is a tax after the first $20,000. The information on pension annuity taxes is contained in the packet that attendees received.

Also, a question was raised about 5 year Final Average Salary eligibility (those hired pre June 17, 1971) and, of course, everyone who is eligible is not eligible for the district buyout, having missed the opportunity. It’s still a relative question because we are still negotiating.

     KTF President Hugh Spoljaric did an email sampling of some of those eligible for retirement to gain some insight into their concerns. As it was a random sampling, and given that school emails were “down” that weekend, every eligible member was no contacted. If the Negotiating Team needs more insight, members will be contacted.

     Finally, due to scheduling concerns, the KTF Cruise, originally scheduled for May 26, will be postponed until September. All Key To Fun award points will be totaled, members will be notified, and reservations will be taken. The KTF regrets the delay, but the new date provides an opportunity for all of us to meet early in the year in the spirit of unity and solidarity.