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     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

     Kingston Teachers’ Federation

                   ‘A PERSONAL APPEAL’

     As your President, the community sees me as ALL Kingston educators. I bear the brunt of negative public comments about any of us and receive, if any, the accolades. So, over the past dozen years, I have made it a practice to become involved in positive community ventures, supporting new activities while continuing to promote vested KTF programs. One of the long-term KTF links is with the Ulster Performing Arts Center.

     It was over 20 years ago that KTF Officer Vince Van Bramer became involved in saving UPAC and, as a member of the UPAC Board, initially involved the KTF. Over that period of time, the KTF has donated $1000 every year to support the production of theater and the restoration of a National Historic Landmark in our community. In 1996, I was asked to become a trustee of UPAC and in 1999, I became the President of the Board. We were in the midst of a 6-year program to completely refurbish the theater. Through an aggressive campaign to balance programming costs and restoration projects, UPAC is now nearly complete. Programming has expanded. A building was purchased across the street as a part of a concept called Broadway Theater Square. The Broadway Theater Gourmet Deli has just opened in the building with Culinary Institute of America (NYSUT affiliate) graduate Chef Joe Fitzgerald and wife, Karen, a former Home and Careers teacher in Kingston, anchoring a corner of the square. To finish the theater, as I leave office in two months, I am asking for your assistance and support.

     This programming year has been dramatically affected by 9/11. Through no fault of our own, three national touring company shows were cancelled. The latest was the Red Army Chorus and Dance who had their passports confiscated by the U.S. Embassy as they waited for departure from Moscow.  It was all part of Homeland Security and another impact from 9/11. The absence of revenue from these programs has been devastating for the UPAC operation budget. In replacing theater seats, the number one priority of theater patrons, last year, UPAC laid out $160,000 for the second round of replacement seats. We were depending on this year’s shows to cover the immediate costs of the seats while continuing the “May We Take You To Your Seat’ program.  That campaign provides a brass plate on each seat purchased by a member of the public. The seat is designated in the donor’s name or it may be engraved ‘in memory of’ or ‘in honor of’ someone. Given the events of the past year, the fulfillment of the seat campaign is a now a priority.

     I am appealing to every KTF member, and their families, to purchase a chair during the month of October for UPAC. The KTF knows that a performing arts theater is an asset to a community. We have accomplished great things over the years and have come too far to allow tragic events to destroy our mission and our spirit.

     In this issue of The Torch is an application form and seating chart for the Broadway Theater. Most of the seats remaining for purchase are $250 or less. It is a wonderful opportunity to remember or to honor someone.

     I am especially proud of my service and commitment to UPAC during my tenure. I represent all of you for I am EVERY Kingston educator. I would like the community to know that I represent every educator, but that there are 1,500 teachers, paras, secretaries, monitors, retirees, and substitutes who make a difference.

     Again, this is my personal appeal to you. It’s a one-time donation and an opportunity to leave your mark for posterity.

     And that’s The Bottom Line.



     October is VOTE/COPE month. VOTE/COPE is the political action arm of the New York State United Teachers. The voluntary fund reached $4 million in donations last year. KTF VOTE/COPE Chair Vince Voerg states, “the money has allowed our NYSUT representatives to lobby lawmakers in Albany to support legislation that supports our profession and to ferret out and block harmful bills that negatively impact our and your profession.”

     This year, the KTF is asking that each member voluntarily donate an amount equal to the first two digits of their salary, rounded off to the nearest ‘10’. There will be one payroll deduction of the donation and it will come from the November 22 check.

     We now have COLA for retirees, a permanent 4% enhancement on pensions, and a movement toward the  elimination of Tier levels, while successfully challenging vouchers and tenure elimination issues.




                OUR WORLD

     Patty Jacob, 2nd grade teacher at Graves, participated in the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day New York Walk during the 3 day Columbus Day Weekend. She is accepting donations from all KTF unit members who wish to support her. Patty states that it’s her way of “taking a stand, helping a cause, trying to make a difference.” Donations, no matter how big or how small, can be sent to Patty at Graves.

     Dale Spencer (Myer) has been named to fill the unexpired term of Terry LeRoy as an At-Large member of the KTF Board. The KTF Board of Directors accepted, with regret, the resignation of long time rep Terry LeRoy. Terry wanted to provide a transition time for newer members to become KTF Reps and would broaden the depth of active participants. She stated that she has the greatest respect for the KTF and can be called on for any support needed.  

      KTF Rep Nick Avossa has presented a resolution to Board of Education President B. A. Feeney that asks the Kingston Schools to assure that all clothing purchases by the district are ‘Sweatshop Free’. NYSUT and the KTF believe that clothing that is produced by child labor or is from countries that support child labor, should not be purchased for the Kingston Schools. The same resolution was presented by the KTF to the Board in February 1999 and the Board failed to take action on the resolution.

     KTF Vice President Vince Voerg reports that the Kingston Schools Safety Committee has reorganized. The Committee consists of 13 members including the Superintendent and Assistants Jerry Gretzinger and Frank Ruggiero, Principals Anna Brett and Marie Anderson, Safety Coordinator Ira Bell, KHS Security Coordinator Barry Dunn, Prevention Coordinator Maggie Anderson, KTF members Vince Voerg, Onnie Dougherty, and Mary Bailey, Parent Debbie Null, and student Bridget Kelly. Reps for custodians and ESP are anticipated. It was decided that the KTF Safety rep in each building would meet with their Principal once a month to discuss safety issues related to the mechanical, environmental, psycho-social, and law enforcement issues and needs of the building.

     The Homeland Security Bill passed by the House allows the President to eliminate over 20 collective bargaining contracts covering 170,000 federal employees. Although he could always do this under a national emergency, this bill allows him to do it even without declaring a national emergency. The Senate is debating the removal of this clause. Both New York Senators support the removal to allow our brothers and sisters working for the government to continue the right to bargain except in a national emergency.

      Senators Kennedy and Harkin have offered an amendment to increase education appropriations by over $4 billion. House Bill HR 5523 reimburses New York for the losses suffered from 9/11. It would go a long way toward solving the fiscal crisis in Albany.

     The Kingston Schools have received a grant of $60,000 from New York State for the Mentor-Teacher program. It marks the first time that the district has been successful in obtaining the grant. The KTF had assembled grant mentoring application information for the district each year from 1995-2000 for the district. Each year, the district had failed to proceed and to apply.        

     A General Membership meeting of the KTF will be held on Thursday, October 23, at 3:30 pm, in the KHS Café. The primary business will be to elect delegates and alternates to NYSUT and AFT.

  The KTF Board of Directors has endorsed as delegates Suzanne Jordan, RoseMarie Maresca, Lauri Naccarato, Mae Stark, Hugh Spoljaric, Vincent Voerg, Kathy Werner, and Joan White, and, as alternates, Sandy Breitenberger, Nancy Chando, Joanne Donnaruma, Dianne Fried, Glenn Gallagher, and Mary McLaughlin. Voting will end at 4:15 pm.

     The Ulster County Pantry Drive is coming soon. KTF members can donate non-food items, like personal hygiene products, to the pantries of Ulster County. The KTF has supported the community outreach drive each of the past here years.       








     NYSUT’s political action committee, in which all President’s of locals have a voice, has issued their list of statewide endorsements. Locally, incumbents Assemblyman Kevin Cahiil and Tom Kirwin and Senators Bill Larkin and John Bonacic are endorsed. Alan Hevesi is endorsed for Comptroller over John Faso. Faso has a record of supporting vouchers and privatization. The Comptroller controls, among many items, the money for public employee pension funds.

The committee made no recommendation of endorsement for Governor. A provision to allow locals with compelling reasons to endorse a gubernatorial candidate was allowed, then, only after discussions with NYSUT Executive VP Alan Lubin.

     The NYC UFT did offer compelling reasons and was allowed to endorse Governor Pataki. The UFT contract is up this year and the belief is that Mayor Bloomberg will be even tougher to work with than was former Mayor Guliani. Therefore, the UFT needs state support.


     The Mid-Hudson regional office of NYSUT is conducting a briefing session on the revised Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), now known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA). The Bush administration has made major revisions in the federal law and those changes could have a profound effect on school district’s and on KTF teachers, teaching assistants, and teacher aides.

     The briefing session will be held at the Hillside Manor on Tuesday, October 29, from 5-7 pm. There will be snacks and beverages from 4-5 pm. Please send your name and school name to Stu Spoljaric at KHS by Wednesday, October 23, to reserve a place. It is important that at least one person from each building attend.



     New teachers may register to win a Palm Pilot by visiting Scroll down to NEW MEMBERS and hit ‘New Member Tips’. Register by October 31, 2002 to receive monthly email “Tips, News and Information” and become eligible to win.

-Tips for ESP and Teachers will begin on or about November 1, 2002.

     While at, go to the  left hand side menu, click on ‘Locals On Line’, and go to Kingston Teachers’ Federation. There are copies of The Torch and links to important sites, including NYS Retirement, the Trust health plan, the Ulster Federal Credit Union, and UPAC.

     Thanks! …to KTF member Fred Bahr (KHS) for his servicing of the KTF computer. Fred built it for KTF 5 years ago and has serviced it for free whenever the need arose. His expert ability and skills are most appreciated.



           RETIREES: KRTF and ESP

     The Kingston Retired Teachers’ Federation sponsored an educational trip to NYC on October 9. The event happened to coincide with the birthday of KTF retiree and Apple Gala award winner Don Sweeney and everyone had a great time. The next retiree luncheon is Friday, October 18, at Williams Lake. Secure all reservations and plan ahead for the December 11 luncheon at Wiltwyck by contacting Anne Tucker at (845) 331-8210.

  The KRTF will be attending the NYSUT Phone Banks on October 25. If any retiree wishes to help out, call Don Sweeney at (845) 679-8697.

     Additionally, it is noted that the NYSUT The Retiree Advisory Council has addressed the ever-increasing population and needs of retirees by creating four new Directors. There will be an At-Large Director and one each for ED’s 1-13, 14-23 (plus higher ed. and Florida), and 24-35.

     The Kingston Educational Support Professionals (KESP) will be holding an ESP Retiree Brunch on October 24 with the intent to form a group to consider the formation of an ESP Retiree Chapter. Additional information is available from Joan White at (845)338-9030 or in the school from Laura Sexton at JFK.


     Responding to concerns about an ESP concern about a pervasive odor and irritation in an office at KHS, KTF Healthy Schools Rep Nick Avossa (KHS) investigated and concluded that a problem existed with the carpeting. He recommended that the carpeting be removed and replaced with new carpeting or tile. Principal Marie Anderson was advised and had new tile placed in the office within two weeks. Congratulations to Nick and to all involved.

























     Three years has passed quickly and the terms of Trustees Greg Gerard (JFK) and Claire Van Valkenburgh (Edson) have ended and their positions on the Trust have been filled by Bill Tubby (KHS) and Kim Garmire (GW). Greg served as the Trust’s Treasurer and Claire as Secretary. Their work is most appreciated. They are a big part of the reason that the Trust has worked so well in providing for member needs. Please offer them a big ‘Thank You’! Bill and Kim will continue the tradition of support.

     ARE YOU USING PRESCRIPTION MAIL ORDER? If you are using any maintenance drugs for which you always need a 90 day supply, then you should be using the Trust’s Merck-Medco Prescription services. The cost is $8 for generic and $16 for name brand drugs for a 90-day supply. Refills can be accomplished by phone. With the dramatic rise in prescription costs, the Trust can save money if member’s order directly from Merck-Medco. If members continue to disregard mail order for maintenance drugs, it may have an impact on future costs. The Trustees ask that you do your part and USE MAIL ORDER FOR ALL 90-DAY SCRIPTS. Contact Miriam White at the KTF office, (845) 338-5422 or email her at