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THE TORCH: May 2006


†††† Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

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

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ďB and BísĒ

†††† Itís that time of year again; Springtime. Thoughts of love should pervade the atmosphere amid an air of flowery scents, but every few years there seems to be a stench in the air. This is one of those years. The odor reaches its zenith on the third Tuesday of May and, if not snuffed out, will pervade the air of springtime for three more years. For us, itís time to apply preventatives in the same way that lawns are protected. We have to give it a heavy dose of fertilizer, followed by weed control, then aerated, and then nutrient added.

†††† This yearís school budget vote and school board election harkens back to a former time less than 10 years ago. The budget increase was 3%, yet the weeds were spreading. As the grass was greening and the flowers blooming, the bugs and harmful insects arrived. There were many reasons given by the invaders as to why they didnít like the green grass and the flowers. At the top, as always, was the budget for producing the beautiful new flowers. During those times, for three years in a row, the budget went up zero %, and yet they persisted. Nothing was good enough for them. They wanted their own ideologies put upon the educational institution. At one point, they succeeded. They hired new Board of Ed attorneys at a lower retainer price. The new attorneys did charge less up front, but they itemized every charge in addition to the retainer; phone calls, tolls, stamps, etc. In the end, their fees grew like weeds.

†††† This year, the same ideologues have, like the locusts, returned to stymie our environment. They are throwing much at the wall in the hopes that something sticks. They have invented issues that appeal to segments of the community. The last time, they went out to senior residences with absentee ballots for those people to sign. They speak in generalities and, like springtime bugs, infest the life of the susceptible. As with each spring, they are dangerous to the life cycle of the environment. Our environment is education and the students are our potential flowers.

†††† On May 16 this year, it is imperative that everyone vote. KTF and NYSUT members in the Kingston district will receive information on KTF supported candidates and voting. A list of voting districts will be included. In 2003, KTF surveyed every voting district and studied the registration lists. Any KTF member who did not vote was sent a reminder letter by the KTF. It was necessary to show how important your vote is. Last year, the budget, on a second proposal, passed by only double digits. Every vote counts!

†††† Candidates who are elected to this Board of Education will serve for three years. Do you know where youíll be and what youíll be facing in 2009? It is imperative that you vote for people who will be supportive of education and of educators.

†††† Control the growth of weeds by preventing their growth. Donít allow the weeds to take over the garden. Vote for those who support the green grass and flowers of education and educators.

†††† Itís within your grasp.

†† And, thatís the Bottom Line.


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ONE UNION

†††† It was years in the making, but on Friday, May 5, 2006, it became a reality. NEA-New York and NYSUT are now one as delegates at the NYSUT RA in Rochester unanimously approved the merger. NEA-NY had approved the same negotiated agreement one week earlier. Former NYSUT President Tom Hobart and NEA-NY President Robin Rapaport joined NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi on the dais and all three joined hands in the celebration. The new organization will be known as NYSUT and will officially operate as one union on September 1.

†††† Locally, there are 13 organizations in our immediate area that are currently affiliated with NEA-NY. They include school personnel from Beacon, Dutchess BOCES, Chatham, and the area community colleges. They will become one with us. The Mid-Hudson NYSUT office will ad one additional Labor Relations Specialist. Many other state organizations, like Minnesota, have already merged and, as other state organizations merge, it will, hopefully, lead to the unification of the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers. The national proposal was initially presented at the AFT Convention in Philadelphia in 2000 and will be a topic of discussion at the national meeting this summer. National unification would create the second largest union organization in the world. If there is strength in numbers, education has taken a giant step forward with the NY merger.


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† RELAY FOR LIFE

†††† The KTF, in conjunction with several schools in the district, annually supports the Relay For Life. After experimenting with a daytime-only event last year, will go back to a 24 hours nighttime event this year. It will be held on Friday, June 9-10 at Dietz Stadium.

†††† KTF coordinator Suzanne Jordan has emailed everyone in the district. As all of us know of someone who has been affected by cancer, she is asking that everyone purchase a $10 luminaries in honor or in memoriam of a person. Members should mail the $10 check (made out to American Cancer Society RFL) along with the name of the honoree and the person making the donation.

†††† Participants are also needed for the Ďcampoutí at Dietz that will begin a 6 pm Friday and end at 6 am Saturday. Volunteers should give their name, school, and the time period of volunteering to the building rep who will forward it to Suzanne.


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† STROKE SCREENING

†††† The Kingston Trust Fund has scheduled a day for Stroke Screening of Trust Fund members. It will be held on Tuesday, August 29, 2006. Screenings will be held throughout the day and the first 91 members to sign-up will receive a reservation for the day. Tentatively, the screening will be held at the Chambers School.

†††† Members will receive screenings for four diseases: Carotid Artery Disease, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms, Peripheral Arterial Disease, and Osteoporosis. The report will be sent directly to the member.

The fee for the complete set of screenings will be $10.

†††† To reserve a screening, please forward to Trust Office Manager Miriam White the following: Name, Address, Phone Number, and a check for $50 (made out to KTF). Send those materials to Miriam at: Kingston Trust Fund, PO Box 4461, Kingston, NY 12402 or send it to her through the PONY to: Miriam White at the George Washington School. The check will be held until the member fulfills the reservation. At check in, the $50 check will be returned and, at that time, the member will pay the $10 fee for the testing.

†††† Applications for reservations will be on a first come, first serve basis.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† TORCHLIGHTS

†††† Superintendent of Schools Gerard Gretzinger is hosting a new shoe on Cable Access Channel 23 in Kingston called Kingston Chronicles. It airs at 8:30 every Thursday. This month, the featured school is the J. Watson Bailey Middle School.

†††† A reminder that KTF Scholarship applications are now available through May 24. A $30 refundable check must accompany the application. And, the NHAI $1000 Scholarship applications are available and must be returned by May 31.

†††† Tickets for the Apple Gala on June 22, 4-7 pm at Wiltwyck Golf Club will be available as of May 22. Members are asked to bulk order their tickets through their KTF Building Rep(s).

†††† KTF Vice-President Kathy Werner was honored to be selected by NYSUT to be the secretary for the Resolutions hearings on Civil and Human Rights. With the Iraq War and the immigration issues as hot items, it was a lively session.

†††† Members are reminded to never allow their certification to slip. Keep it current and meet the deadlines for permanent certification. There have been many instances statewide where teachers forgot about it and lost their positions.

††††† GOOD-BYE, and THANKS! The June KTF meeting marks the last meeting for KTF Reps Joanne Donnaruma (JWB), Paul Edelson (JWB), Katie Miller (Zena), and KTF Membership Sceretary Mary McLaughlin (MCM). Former Reps Cookie Reis and Charlie Castle, and former KTF VP Al Stein are also retiring. Thanks for all of your hard work!