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            THE TORCH:     November 2002

THE BOTTOM LINE

     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

              Kingston Teachers’ Federation

                  “Power is Knowledge”

     As the past Election Day approached, I was speaking with people about the issues. Iraq, the economy, and taxes were the usual issues and the sniper shootings were added in. I asked about the sources of their views and found that, as expected, were tabloid and local papers and the television/cable media. Coupled with this, I began to look at the demographics of our society.

     Within the past decade, America has aged and most retirees would like to preserve what they have. Additionally, we have the impact of 9/11 and the recent sniper shootings and we have a societal fear for our safety. The image of Iraq as an immediate cause of concern gives us an opportunity to go on the offensive. And how do we know all of this? What is the source of our information? It’s an entertainment medium that has disguised itself as an objective source of news information.

     The idea of changing horses in the middle of the stream doesn’t seem like a good idea to many and that was reflected in the results on Election Day. Turnout was abysmal and the ‘ins’ were trusted and reelected and the ‘outs’ were rejected. Playing it safe and believing in the messages triumphed. Having lived through the Vietnam period, I’m more than a little suspect of the establishment. What I do see is the expert use of the media to plan for favorable outcomes.

     Within the past two weeks, the Superintendent of the Kingston Schools has stated that the district must do a better job of informing the public of the positive aspects of education in the Kingston Schools. It’s offered that this will lead to better community links and to the passing of a budget. Maybe so, but the strategists who pulled off the Election Day coups will never agree that informing the public of their strategy ahead of time, or admitting to it afterwards, will gain you any trust. The power and success lies in the subtle creation of a knowledge base that becomes truth to the public because it’s in the media. The public doesn’t trust self-interested sources. PR 101 just doesn’t cut it. Ask the Election Day strategists. They planted the ideas in the media (whom they knew had to fill space and time) months ago and the public bought it as objective news. The public wants to believe that there is no strategy, no deceit, and they trust the information because they read it in the newspaper or saw it on TV. And, the strategy works best when everyone supports the common patriotic bottom line. Such is not the case with school budgets.

     Not everyone in the public is supportive of public schools. Those on fixed incomes, commercial establishments impacted by Homestead tax structures, and supporters of vouchers are not going to be convinced by ‘canned’ self-serving presentations. Knowledge used to be power. Now, the power lies in the creation of the knowledge. As seen on Election Day, it’s the group that stealthily plans its agenda, knows its players, spreads the message, and galvanizes support that achieves success. 

     And, that’s the Bottom Line.

       VOTE/COPE UPDATE

            Vince Voerg, Vote/Cope Coordinatorr

     Our annual VOTE/COPE appeal ended on November 1, and initial figures reflect a significant increase in the KTF contribution to the larger NYSUT campaign. As of this writing, late contributions are still coming in, but the first run of figures screams of a successful campaign especially in the area of payroll deduction contributions. All forms and figures were due to the central office for payroll deduction by November 8 in order to facilitate the November 22 paycheck withdrawal. The December Torch will give an accurate accounting of our success.

     We extend an extraordinary thank you to all KTF reps who facilitated this enormous effort. A note of gratitude is also extended to all who increased their contribution amount and to all who maintained a responsible level of contribution. We particularly welcome and applaud those who contributed for the first time. To all, your KTF officers extend a hearty and professional ‘Thank you’.

           RETIRED TEACHERS

     Teachers who retired from the Kingston Schools are reminded that they are obligated to join the Kingston Retired Teachers’ Federation if they wish to continue their NYSUT benefits. It is a rule of NYSUT. Frequently, members are notified by NYSUT Benefits that they are no longer eligible for benefits. From now until the Spring, contact Don Sweeney at (845) 679-8697 for retiree information.

     The Kingston Retired Teachers’ Federation will hold their next luncheon on December 11 at Wiltwyck. Why not make a holiday date and treat yourself to an afternoon of remembrances of the past and planning for the future. The status of retirees is becoming a very large issue that has vast implications. Retirees must remain active and involved.

 

               MARK IT DOWN!

*KTF PANTRY DRIVE: Nov. 21

     The KTF Board of Directors, at the November meeting, voted that the KTF should operate their own pantry drive and select yearly recipients. This year, the Soap Closet at the Holy Cross Church will be the beneficiary. Donations of toothpaste, shampoo, soap, dish and detergent, and mouthwash will be accepted. Joanne Friedman (Meagher/Chambers) has graciously volunteered to coordinate the collection and distribution of items.

*KTF BLOOD DRIVE- NOVEMBER 20

     It will have been 435 days since September 11 when the KTF holds their Blood Drive on November 20. KTF Vice President Suzanne Jordan has organized the effort for that afternoon at the Bailey School. Applications are available in all schools and should be returned promptly to Suzanne. The KTF would like to collect 100 pints and asks everyone who is able to give to do so and, for those who are unable to give, to volunteer their assistance.Contact Suzanne at JWB.

*APPLE GALA SCHEDULED- June 18

     Circle your calendar for Wednesday, June 18, for the celebration at APPLE GALA X.

*SWEATSHOP FREE RESOLUTION

     And, mark this down! A proposal, already in ready-resolution form, that would ensure that the district does not purchase any clothing items from companies or nations that use child labor in the production of those items, was presented to Board of Education President B.A.Feeney in September. It was the same resolution that was presented to the Board (of which he was a member) in February of 1999. To date, no action has been taken by the Board. If it is discovered that the district has purchased items made by child labor, please inform your KTF rep.

     To access the purchase ($10) of an AFT multidisciplinary video on “Lost Futures: The Problem of Child Labor”, go to www.AFT.org .  

IN SERVICE/GRAD CREDITS

     The district was advised of member concerns regarding the timeliness in awarding salary credit. There is an on-going effort to complete all existing submissions by November 22.

     Members are reminded that all in-services that are not school or MHTC sponsored need prior approval. Credit for hours should be submitted when 45 seat hours (3 credits) is achieved. Salary increases are paid from the date of that submission.

NEW MEMBERS—FREE!

     All new KTF members are eligible for a free, one year $50,000 Term Life Insurance policy, a free one year Disability Insurance policy, and a free one year enrollment in the NYSUT legal Service Plan. These benefits are offered to KTF new members at NO CHARGE! The Legal Service Plan is activated by a checkoff on the NYSUT Enrollment Card. In January, new members will receive information on the Life and Disability insurance. Contact your Building Rep for any info.

*CERTIFICATION: There are many new sources of information to learn about the new requirements for certification. On line, visit www.nysut.org or the N.Y.S. Education Department (SED) at www.nysed.gov. The telephone number of the SED Certification Office is (518)474-3901.

 

        AREA BARGAINING

    The teacher locals in GREENVILLE, Washingtonville, Newburgh, Roscoe, Tri-Valley, and Fallsburg began the year with expired contracts.

     The ESP units with expired contracts include Arlington, Wappingers, Liberty, Fallsburg, Rondout, and Ellenville.

KINGSTON TRUST AMENDMENTS

     The following plan modifications, clarifications and amendments have been approved for the Kingston Trust Plan with National Health Administrators, Inc.

*Lasik Eye Surgery: Extended benefits to NPPO providers.

*Specialists-Office Copay: $15. ($10 copay for all others.)

*CT Screening: modified to include bone density exams for females  

   or spouses 55 or older (100%, $10 copay, once every two years or  

   as medically necessary).

*Medicare coordination: If a provider accepts Medicare, but will not 

   bill Medicare, the plan allows up to 115% of the Medicare charge

   and will pay the benefit up to the 115% less any Medicare

   payments.

*Behavioral: The NHAI Behavioral Network is the exclusive provider

   of behavioral services. If a member uses an outside provider with

   the approval of NHAI, the maximum allowable charge will be limited

   to the lowest fee schedule within network and the member is

   responsible for all charges that are not covered under the plan. All  

   services must be pre-approved.

Exclusions: Only one office visit charge per day will be allowed even

   if there is more than one diagnosis or treatment rendered.

*Acupuncture and Chiropractic: All visit services are limited to a

   maximum charge of $60 including the copay with a maximum plan

   payment of $50/day. Only one office visit/day is permitted to the

   same provider. The maximum annual benefit for all acupuncture,

   chiropractic, and massage therapy is limited to $1500/year.

*Massage Therapy: Effective Jan. 1, massage therapy will only be

  covered when pre-approved under a case management program in

  conjunction with serious injury or chronic medical condition where

  massage therapy is medically necessary and is under the direct

  supervision of a physician. If approved, payment shall be at 50% up

  to a maximum of $15 for ½ hr. or $30 for 1 hr. with a maximum of 20

  visits per calendar year. It shall be included and limited to the

  overall chiropractic dollar limit.

  Precertification: Any combination of chiropractic, acupuncture, and

  massage therapy treatment expected to exceed 6 visits during any

  30 period under the supervision of the same medical provider must

  be pre-certified.

A copy of the complete modifications, clarifications, and changes to the NHAI Plan are available by contacting the Kingston Trust Office Manager, Miriam White, at (845) 338-5422.

 

                        SCHOLARSHIP UPDATE

                           RoseMarie Maresca, Treasurer

     Many thanks to the KTF Membership for contributing to this past year’s Apple Gala tickets. A total of $5040. was depositied in the KTF Scholarship Fund. The account balance is currently $46,061.77 in cash and $778.99 in stocks. This total reflects our nine year fund raising activities.

     Our goal is to generate income to sustain yearly awards of approximately $5000. I urge your continued support by honoring a birthday, anniversary, or remembering a loved one with a contribution. The KTF Executive Committee will gladly notify friends and family of the tribute.