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THE TORCH:  September 2005

THE BOTTOM LINE

     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

              Kingston Teachers’ Federation 

                             The View From Here

     As we begin the 2005-06 school year, it’s time for some reflection and some views ahead of the curve.

     Personally, I would like to thank everyone for the expressions of kindness, compassion, and support for my family and myself in the tragic loss of my sister last month. There are few absolutes in life and we can all be impacted at any moment. Knowing that there are others who care offers immediate comfort. The rest takes small steps and time.

     We have a teachers’ contract in place and that’s a positive way to begin the year. The hope is that the ESP can reach a resolution soon and that the administrators and CSEA members will settle just as quickly. It is important, especially when there is a huge school bond proposal looming in the next six months. Statewide, 310 NYSUT locals, 163 representing teachers and 147 representing school related personnel, have expired contracts.

     The state education department has presented their annual list of ‘schools in need of improvement’ and it’s the same story throughout the state. A lack of federal resources for public schools in funding the No Child Left Behind Act has impacted rural and urban centers alike. In those areas exist families of lower socio-economic levels and the school districts are strapped financially to provide all the resources necessary to meet the standards. In some districts, students didn’t take the tests because they were not prepared and the district cited them as in need of improvement due to the lack of participation. It’s ironic that Texas, which promoted these tests under then Governor George W. Bush, allowed only the students whom they thought could pass the test to take the test. The Texas “success” has driven the national education agenda. We continue, like a dog, to chase our tails in the unrealistically pursuit of all students achieving Level 4 status by 2014. On a positive note, state ed has published a guide to state and federal standards with a core curriculum for math and English Language Arts, K-12.

     Among the states, the announcement by the ‘governator’ of California that he will seek election presents a referendum on several key issues. Among them is the concept of pensions being tied to a ‘defined contribution’ versus the existing ‘defined benefit’. Watch this closely because as goes California, so goes the national agenda.

     And, a form of the Dress Code proposed by KTF has been implemented by the Board of Education and it is reasonable. The idea that school is a more formal process and that it is a preparation for success in the world should be the promotional position for teachers, assistants, monitors, secretaries, and administrators. It’s not about sanctions and control and dictates. We need to be vigilante, yet civil, in our interactions with students.

     Every year begins with great expectations and plans. We think of planning forward and then, as with many plans, the day-to-day activities overwhelm us and it becomes a game of catching up. It feels like a marathon. Try taking small bits of calendar time, establishing where you want to be, and get there. It’s back timing instead of the irregular wandering path forward.  We all believe that every item we cover is very important and there is no room to eliminate anything. BULLETIN: Your material, like yourself, is not indispensable. Be realistic. Establish a time frame from now to Columbus Day. Next, move on to Thanksgiving, and, then, to Winter Break and to the end of the semester. I think you’ll be surprised and there will be no other surprises! I know you’ll be happier and less stressed. The key to success is constancy of purpose. Know where you’re going and get there. Again, it’s small steps and time.

     And, that’s the Bottom Line.

 

                                   KRISTINA DRIVE

     The KTF Pajama Program to provide needed clothing essentials to victims of Hurricane Kristina was a great success. 60 boxes of pajamas, socks, flip-flops, and books were collected. Suzanne Jordan housed everything in her garage until it was pick up by ALLWAYS MOVING of Kingston. John Benkert of the moving company offered to transport the boxes for free to Port Chester, NY for shipment to the gulf. This is the same John Benkert who has run commercials on local radio every May supporting the school budget, education, and teachers. We owe him much gratitude and thanks.

     And, thanks to Kathy Werner for establishing the drive and to Suzanne’s for collecting the goods.

     In October, the KTF will sponsor its annual Pantry Drive during the third week. Goods not covered by social service aid, such as toiletries and personal hygiene products, will be collected.

 

                         

                                     UPDATES

CREDIT: As was reported in the June Torch, a new law allows everyone the opportunity to a free yearly credit report. There are three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies. For the purpose of the free report, a central toll-free, mailing address, and web site through which to order the report has been established.

By Phone: 1-877-322-8228

By Mail: print the request form from www.ftc.gov/credit and mail it to: Annual Credit Report request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

On The WEB: go to www.annualcreditreport.com

 

CONTRACT: Please note that longevity is based on 20 years of service to the Kingston district. Permanent sub time can count because permanent subs are a part of the teachers’ contract. Per diem time does not count. Credit is awarded upon completion of 20 years and is given on July 1 only.

     Elementary teachers work 6 hrs. and 55 mins. Conflicts with bus schedules has them arriving at most buildings after 3:10pm. Teachers are allowed to leave 15 mins. early on Fridays and days before holidays. This conflict will be discussed with the district.

On all other days, any teacher required to stay beyond the school day should file a voucher with the Principal for the extra session.

CRUISE: The Key To Fun Cruise that was rescheduled for September 16 failed to register enough members. It will be looked at again in the spring.

CALENDAR: The elementary teachers will now have five (5) half days with students at the end of the school year (the Friday before and the first four days of the last week). The change was necessitated by a conflict with the bus schedules. Additionally, the revised calendar provides for a full day off before Thanksgiving.

 

LEAVES: Another reminder that if you are a teacher returning from leave, you must rejoin the Sick Bank (Glenn Gallagher @ GW) and notify KTF Membership Chair Mary McLaughlin (MCM) that you are returning.

OVERAGES: The district has until September 30 to rectify overages. Please contact your Building Rep if you have a concern.

VOTE/COPE: There is no fall VOTE/COPE Drive for teacher unit members as all donations for 2005 were collected during the spring via payroll deduction. There will be a fall drive for ESP, Subs, and Retirees. They will receive direction from their unit VOTE/COPE Chairs.

                           NEW TEACHER MEETINGS

     New Teacher Coordinator Kate Naughter of JWB will be joined by former KTF Representative Ann Bauch as a co-coordinator in working with the new teachers as they assume the KTF Torch that is passed with each year’s retirements.

     A meeting with the 35 new first year in Kingston teachers will be held on Thursday, September 29, at 330 at the NYSUT office.

     NYSUT will provide additional information for those newly hired teachers and for any teachers who has worked three (3) or less at a dinner workshop on Tuesday, October 18, 3:30-7:30, at the Kingston Holiday Inn. The registration deadline is October 7 and space is limited. It is FREE and includes a light dinner and dessert, but a check for $25 must accompany the registration form. Attendees will receive their checks back upon attending the program.

     Registration forms will be in the hands of your Building Rep by Friday, September 23.

     Your professional career is more than a classroom job. It is your life. As with oxygen masks on planes, when it drops down, take care of yourself first. This is your opportunity.

       

       EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS

     KESP president Joan White reports that the unit, now in their second year without a contract, has agreed with the district on David Stein as a mediator. Mr. Stein is familiar with the Kingston arena having successfully mediated the teachers’ contract.

                               SUBSTITUTES

       Kingston Federation of Substitute Teachers Mae Stark announces that there will be a meeting of the substitute unit on September 27. Mae can be contacted at MaeRosalind@aol.com

     Substitute teacher would like to be notified by the Principals of any ‘Incident Reports’ involving students they may have in their classes. These reports indicate any aggressive, threatening, or violent behavior toward the regular classroom teacher for whom the sub is replacing.

                                     RETIREES

     120 members of the Kingston Retired Teachers’ Federation held their annual “Not Back To School” luncheon on September 7. At the meeting, President Anne Tucker announced her resignation as President (see related article) as she and her husband Bob are moving to Florida permanently. The KRTF voted to donate $500 to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief.

     Their next meeting will be at William’s Lake on October 19. Contact Don Sweeney at (845) 679-8697 for additional information. Additionally, Don will be contacting members regarding the VOTE/COPE Drive. And, an annual reminder that Kingston retirees may access NYSUT benefits only if they are a KRTF member.