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     THE TORCH: October 2005

THE BOTTOM LINE

     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

              Kingston Teachers’ Federation 

                                      Giving and Receiving

     The Pajama Program spearheaded by KTF Vice President for Elementary Kathy Werner has brought accolades from near and far. As an opening day KTF response to the misery of Hurricane Katrina on the gulf coast, you, our members, responded to the call. After boxes of pajamas, socks, flip-flops, and children’s books were collected from the schools and secured in Suzanne Jordan’s garage, ALLWAYS MOVING of Kingston transported the goods free of charge to the waiting larger trucks in Westchester County. Genevieve Piturro of the Pajama Program accompanied the goods to Louisiana and kept a journal. Here is the excerpt from September 29.

     It’s just after midnight when we arrived in Monroe, Louisiana. We are all exhausted-emotionally. At 9 am, our truck arrived and we had 10 excited and enthusiastic volunteers ready to unload. Everyone was waiting to see the thousands of pajamas from New York City! And the boxes just kept coming out of the truck-it was endless. I saw it all on the loading dock, but even I was overwhelmed when I saw it coming off a tractor-trailer.

     We visited several shelters and met many, many families. Some people now seem to have hope while others are still afraid and alone. I want to hold the second group and promise them it will be ok again.

     We still saw mattresses on gym floors, but there are fewer. The sight of big Tupperware containers with each person’s belongings stopped me in  my tracks.

     Some people have found jobs and are calling Monroe home now, some will drive home to New Orleans this weekend and see what they will see. When they tell you that, they look at you like you might tell them it’s all been a bad dream. What do you say? Good Luck? That seems trite so you say nothing and try to convey comfort and compassion as you stare back and nod.

     The children are wonderful as always. They smile and laugh with us-their new friends who have brought them presents.

     At the last shelter we visited tonight, I was tired and looked for a place to sit quietly. As the crowd thinned out it seemed every child, mother and father, had at least one pair of pajamas and even a book or two to take to bed with them. I was glad we visited them close to bedtime. As I stood to leave, three little girls came up behind me and said, “Did you bring these from far away for us?” I said we did and they wrapped their arms around me waist-high, and gave me one of the biggest bear hugs I’ve ever had. “Thank you,” they whispered. At that moment I would have carried all the pajamas from New York on my back for that hug. Forget the truck.

     But today, we all agree that the highest high came not from one of the littlest kids…it came from a 77 year old kid-at-heart. When we arrived at one of the shelters and before we even had a chance to unload the boxes, we turned to discuss our plan. The next thing we saw was an elderly woman struggling to pull a pajama top over her clothing and button it up. “It fits…you can’t have it, it’s mine!” She laughed with a young girl who apparently also had her eye on the same set. We were stunned…and she was delighted with herself. In her new shiny pajama top she asked us, “How do I look?” Of course we all made a fuss over her. She was an evacuee from New Orleans who just wouldn’t give in to her plight. Instead, she said it was all going to work out ok soon enough and she was making the best of it…and making new friends in the process.

 I guess we love children for their innocence and pure joy and the way they make us remember how life can be if we let it. But some people keep that child with them forever. They are the lucky ones. And tonight they needed pajamas, too.

     It feels good to make a difference. As teachers, we learn that many times we receive more back than we ever give away. It gives purpose and meaning to our lives and we, unlike many professions, have the opportunity every day.

     And, that’s the Bottom Line.

    

                    GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

     Due to a conflict with a delayed faculty meeting schedule for October, the KTF General Membership meeting scheduled for October 20 has been moved to October 27. It will still be held in the KHS Cafeteria with the only agenda item being the election of delegates and alternates to the NYSUT and AFT Representative Assemblies. Voting will be from 3 pm to 4:15 pm.

     The KTF Board of Director has nominated the following KTF members as delegates and alternates: Nancy Chando, Dianne Fried, Glenn Gallagher, Eric Koch, Suzanne Jordan, Mary McLaughlin, Lauri Naccarato, Hugh Spoljaric, Mae Stark, Vince Voerg, Claire Van Valkenburgh, Kathy Werner, Joan White, and one member of the Retired Teachers.

    

 

      NEW! SALARY ACCEPTANCE FORM 

     Last year in Roslyn, Long Island, the Superintendent of Schools and the Business manager were charged with the theft of school district funds in the millions. As a result, district auditing practices changed. This past spring, employees had to sign for one of their paychecks.  Now, a new verification document, the Salary Acceptance Form must be verified in school districts. All employees will have to sign the form. The information for the form is processed through a BOCES program called ‘Finance Manager’ that lists your salary status. If you believe that the information is correct. Sign the document and return it to your Principal. If you believe the form contains errors, specifically note the errors on the document and return the form to the office of Joe Previll at the Cioni Building. The form will be checked and adjusted if necessary and returned to you for your signature.

    

 

                TEACHER CONTRACT CLARIFICATIONS

     Unless otherwise noted, specified, or agreed to, all items are referenced forward beginning with the 2005-06 school year.

     In-service and Graduate credit salary increases are credited in groups of 3 credit hours (45 seat hours). The district and the KTF agree to round off the dollar amount per credit in each year of the contract. In 2005-06, the number ($110.35) will be rounded down; in 2006-07, the number ($114.22) will be rounded up, and it will alternate in the same fashion for each year of the contract.

     The definition of longevity for salary purposes is as follows: Longevity is calculated as the total number of years of service to the Kingston Schools in the capacity as a teacher unit member. With the exception of permanent substitute status that was not extended by a probationary appointment, it shall also include all time in those capacities as a teacher unit member whether it is consecutive or interrupted time.

     Per diem substitute teaching time and employment time in other areas or in other district units shall not be counted in calculating longevity for salary purposes.

      Longevity shall be based on the completion of 20 years of service and 30 years of service. A year of service shall be granted in the same manner or entitlement to moves on the salary schedule. All increases in longevity payments shall be on July 1 of each year.

     The selection of a 125 plan administrator is imminent. The 125 plan should be available and in effect by January 1, 2006.

                                                  SCUBA DIVING
     The Kingston Underwater Explorers, KUE, will hold their annual scuba certification course again this year. George Campbell of Deep Six Underwater Systems of New Paltz will teach the course that results in certification for life in both PADI and NAUI.
     The cost of the instruction is $395. and includes the use of all equipment, classroom materials, and insurance for the duration of the course by Divers Alert Network. The cost for students, faculty, scouts, firefighters, and law enforcement officers is $370. A $50 check to Kingston Underwater Explorers will ensure a space in the class. The balance is payable in two equal installments upon course completion.
     Pool dives at KHS will be: Sat., Nov.5, 4-6 pm; Sun., Nov. 6, 1:30-6 pm; Sat., Nov. 12, 1-6 pm; and Sun., Nov. 13, 11-3 pm.
     In addition, there will be two dives at Lake Mohonk and at Lake Minnewaska in the spring.
     For more infromation, go to www.deep-six.com; email to: dsusdive@aol.com; or call 255-7446.
     School contacts are Ken Brett and Nick Avossa at KHS.

                      
NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION
     The NYSUT Education and Learning Trust(ELT) offers a 15 hour pre-candidacy program that helps teachers to prepare their applications.
     ELT also offers a three credit graduate course that guides participants through the application process, helps organize time, and prepares the videotape and portfolios. More information is available on the NYSUT website at www.nysut.org.
     The KTF contract provides for an increase in salary for those who attain National Certification.

 

                          MHTC MINI-GRANT HONORS

     A reception was held at the Locust Grove on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie on Tuesday, September 20, to honor Mid-Hudson Teachers’ Center Mini-Grant participants.

     James Scheffel of Miller was invited to showcase his work and to be honored by the MHTC at the event.

     And, the MHTC has acquired a license that allows teachers, parents, and students to access an interactive calendar that is loaded with wonderful information, lesson plan ideas, biographies, links to websites, and many other interesting and valuable topics for educators. Visit: http://mhtc.farr-integratingit.net

                              UFCU WORKSHOP

     A personal Financial Management Workshop will be available to Ulster Federal Credit Union members by Certified Financial Planners Kevin Ginty and Brian Ginty on October 25, November 1, and November 8, 6pm-9:15pm at the Quality Inn (formerly the Ramada Inn). The seminar tuition is $59 and includes a spouse or guest at no additional charge, but is free to the first 35 members to register. A materials fee of $45 per couple, $30 for UFCU members, payable to the instructor, will be collected on the first night of the workshop. It includes a 175 page workbook and study aids.

     To register, contact the UFCU at 339-5544, ext. 132.

 

                             ESP RECOGNITION DAY

     November 18 has been designated as Educational Support Professionals Day in New York State. It’s a day to pay tribute to the teaching assistants, secretaries, and monitors that embody the staff of our educational community.

     Meanwhile, the KESP await their first meeting with the mediator in their efforts to settle a contract that expired nearly 1 ½ years ago.