THE BOTTOM LINE
Hugh M. Spoljaric, President
Kingston Teachers’ Federation
It’s been an unusually busy summer. With the exception of two weeks for family vacation time, KTF officers were dealing with a number of issues. We have filed an Improper Practice with PERB that charges the District with unilaterally changing the formula for determining their contribution to our health Trust. You’ll remember that the District announced to us that there would be no rate increase in Blue Cross for 2002-03 and, since the Trust receives 5% less, there would be no increase in premium costs for the Trust. At the same time, the District was busy telling the public at budget presentations that we were responsible for a $4 million increase in the budget. I wonder why, among other sordid reasons, the budget failed twice.
An investigation now shows that the District has not been using a state or regional Blue Cross premium rates. Rates, we now are told, are based on the few district employees who have the Blue Cross Wrap Plan. 60% of the employees who have Blue Cross are Medicare primary. It’s hardly representative of the rates that the District would have to pay if the Trust were annulled. Again, a big surprise would be in store for the taxpayers and, again, the finger would be pointed at us.
There is a copy of the Letter To The Community included with this issue of The Torch. The KTF paid to have it published last year in an attempt to balance what we viewed as one-sided reporting. Please read it again. It talks about full disclosure and the lack of volunteered information that exists in dealings with the district. This new revelation smells of deliberate deception. When the Washington Post reported in a June edition that people only spend 11 minutes reading a daily newspaper and that they rarely comprehend anything more than the headlines, it gives pause to reflect on our own local situation.
You’ll remember that in early March of this year, the District adopted the A+ Mission/Belief Plan statement of the Superintendent. It speaks of integrity, respect, and character. An act of deliberate deception renders these words empty; mere rhetoric for the reader.
Until things change, we’ll continue to stand by our words and acts of substance.
And that’s the Bottom Line.
For over a year, KHS ESL teacher Theresa Martin has been at the side of her son, Gregg Waltman, since he was diagnosed with leukemia. Working with specialists in New York, Houston, and Seattle, they sought treatment for his condition. Gregg underwent a bone marrow transplant in February in Seattle. Word has now been received that the doctors consider the procedure a success! Gregg and Theresa hope to return home soon, happy and healthy!
One year ago, Emil (Butch) Zullo, only one year into his retirement after 35 years of teaching, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma of both the blood and the bone marrow, an unusual occurrence. He and his family have traveled to New York City and Boston for treatments.
In July, Butch received a stem cell transplant for his blood and, to date, the disease is in remission in the blood. Testing was done to find a bone marrow donor and his son, Todd, was found to be an almost identical match. On September 3, Todd donated his marrow to his father. After one week, the doctor’s are amazed at Butch’s progress. The next two weeks are crucial for determining the success of the procedure. Butch is recuperating in Boston. His address is: Emil Zullo, In-Patient North 8, BMT Unit, New England Medical Center, 750 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111. Todd has been able to return to college and Butch’s wife, Barbara, has been with her husband and is staying in Boston, courtesy of the Cam Neely House. The House provides a residence for families of patients. We’re sure that Butch would appreciate a card, note, or letter.
The Kingston Retired Teachers’ Federation held their opening of the school year luncheon on Wednesday, September 4, at the Wiltwyck Golf Club. President Anne Tucker reports that 38 of the 46 new retirees who joined the KRTF attended. (There are only three new retirees who have not joined.)
The KRTF will sponsor an educational bus trip to New York City on October 9 and will have their next luncheon on October 19 at Williams Lake. Further information is available from Anne at (845)331-8210.
Meanwhile, NYSUT is conducting two contiguous meetings of reps from ED 12 and Ed 13 for the sole purpose of addressing the ever-increasing need for retiree services. As we have seen with the first stage of retiring ‘baby boomers’, the retiree ranks will continue to swell. The KTF reps to Ed 13 are Sandy Breitenberger and Kathy Werner.
The District elected participation in the State Retirement Incentive (Chapter 69) this summer. There were two options. The first provided, as in past years, one month for every year of service up to 36 years. A new option granted eligibility to those who were at least 55 years old and had 25 years of service. This new option is seen as a move to eventually combine all Tires into one. Several members switched from the District RIP to the state plan and there were some new applicants. Among the new retirees are Michael Goodman, Steven Greenberg, Laura Hilbert, James Marcinkowski, Kathleen Mayer, Fred McCoy, Robert Moore, and Betty Hendrickson. Doug Getman, a ‘retired’ Chemistry teacher who has been working as a coordinator of secondary curriculum, also took the state plan.
Betty Hendrickson, a KTF At-Large Rep, taught Math in Room 139 at the Miller School since it opened in 1968. A fitting tribute to honor Betty would be for the District to name the room “The Betty Hendrickson Classroom.” Teachers are overlooked when it comes to these honors. Someone who has had a direct influence on over 5,000 students and has been as dedicated as Betty should be recognized with a lasting tribute.
The large number of retirements has resulted in the hiring of 70 new teachers. The KTF had a preliminary meeting with many of them on August 29. There are two more meetings planned this month.
‘PASSING THE TORCH’, a KTF program by KTF New Teacher coordinator Jenn O’Brien, will be held on Thursday, September 26, at the J.W.Bailey School Library at 3:30pm. The agenda will cover necessary Federation information and will end by 5 pm.
On Monday, September 30, NYSUT will present a statewide view of necessary information for new members at the Kingston Holiday Inn. The 4 1/2-hour agenda includes dinner and is free.
Application notices are available in every building from KTF Reps. As Jenn O’Brien has pointed out in the past,“This is invaluable career information from the groups that represent you in your profession.”
TEACHER REPS: With retirements, new Teacher Building Reps include Vicki Sellers at Anna Devine, Bruce Cobb at Miller, and Jeanne Roper (Crosby) as an At-Large member. Jean McGarry’s name was omitted from the 1st Day edition and she continues at KHS.
MENTORING, APPR, and 2SCHOOL
The Kingston Teacher Mentoring Program, now in its third year, involves 250 people this year. Pat Neher, Professional Growth Chair for the KTF has worked closely with Marystephanie Corsones of the District, to produce a program that addresses the needs of new teachers.
The Annual Professional Practices Review, a program mandated by the state, has been introduced to the professional staffs in the District. A group, headed by KTF Secretary Lauri Naccarato and Pat Neher, developed the document. The committee included a majority of teachers who have worked over the past year to produce a final outline. As Principals will be the instructional leaders and need to inform their staff’s of the APPR, they will receive in-service instruction this year on implementing the program. As such, the District has indicated that this year will be a learning year with the APPR.
2School, the evening education program at KHS that has been in existence since 1971, now has an enrollment of 150 students. According to Tony Erena, one of the 2School Principals, that population is similar to the entire population of Coleman High School. To accommodate the ever-increasing population of students who must meet state requirements for graduation, classes run through two afternoon and evening time periods.
All employees are to be aware of contractual responsibilities that both the District and the Federation are bound.
Class size requirements should be met by September 30. Report all overages to your Principal. Check requirements regarding consecutive assignments. The Taylor Law prohibits any personal negotiations that exclude the KTF as the representative body.
Joan White, President of the Educational Support Professionals, indicates that NYSUT is establishing a set of guidelines for secretaries, paraprofessionals, and monitors. In 2004, new state standards will be mandated for paraprofessionals. “Ladder” programs, whereby paras take college courses and advance to positions of teaching assistants and, with completion of a Bachelors in Education, are eligible for teaching positions.
More information will be available in upcoming issues of the New York Teacher.
The educational political action committee of the KTF has received the list of NYSUT endorsements for the November elections. At the summer NYSUT PAC conference, leaders from all locals endorsed Eliott Spitzer’s bid for re-election as Attorney General and backed 119 Democrats and 74 Republicans for state legislature. NYSUT will not take a position in the Governor’s race until October.
Locally, Senators William Larkin and John Bonacic and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill received endorsements. A complete list is available in the New York Teacher.
KTF EAC Phone Banks Chair Sandy Breitenberger, who will be retiring this year, is coordinating the local calling of NYSUT members. Members who would like to volunteer for a 2-hour session should send their names to Sandy at (KHS). It’s a wonderful opportunity to become involved in friendly KTF work and to serve your Federation. Teaching is more than a classroom duty.
UPAC RAFFLE, CHAIRS and SHOWS
The KTF is a supporter of the Ulster Performing Arts Center. The UPAC gives away $13,000 in prizes, including a $10,000 first prize, at their raffle drawing on the first Friday in November. Building Reps have tickets available. In the last four years, KTF members have won the $2,000 second prize three times. Members are encouraged to share the cost of the $100 tickets and everyone is invited to the reception on raffle night. Retired teacher Karen Fitzgerald and her husband, Joe, will cater the reception. They operate the (soon to be relocated grand opening) Broadway Theater Deli.
UPAC still has 700 seats that need benefactors. Most are $100-$250 seats that will receive a plaque in the name that you desire.
Upcoming shows at UPAC include The RED ARMY and DANCE ENSEMBLE (September 27), LITTLE FEAT(October 11), AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’(October 19), BARRAGE(November 9), SPIRIT OF THE DANCE(replacing George M on November 23), and NUNCRACKERS (December 22).
For all information, call UPAC at (845)339-6088.
LAST CALL: KHS Theater Arts Teacher Wendell Scherer directs the COACH HOUSE PLAYERS’ production of AGNES OF GOD. Final performances are Thursday through Sunday, September 19-22. $15 General Admission, $12 Seniors; at the door or reserve by calling 331-2476. The reviews have been spectacular!