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TORCH: June 2008

                       Professionally Speaking

     There is an old saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” If that’s the case, then I must be having the time of my life!       

    The concept of time passing quickly has taken on new meaning. This was the fastest school year on record. I have talked to several people, some younger and some older, who feel similarly. No one seems to understand why this phenomenon is occurring, but it seems that the 2007-08 school year just began and here we are looking at the closing. At the high school, graduate caps and gowns are being distributed, yearbooks are being passed around, and talk of exams is everywhere. In the middle and elementary schools, everyone is busy planning moving up and moving out. As the school year comes to a close, I hope you can take a few minutes to catch your breath and reflect on the year. For me, this year can be summed up with the idea of dealing with change while maintaining stability and sanity.

In my first year as President, I’ve learned that:

1.   Things are constantly changing, but some things never change;

2.   Rumors travel faster than truth and are remembered longer;

3.   Even if you ask the questions, you may not get all the information;

4.   Every story has at least three sides;

5.   Expectations are important. If you expect the best, you will get it;

6.   Change is difficult;

7.   Stu made it look easy;

8.   I still have a great deal to learn. (Fortunately for me, I love to learn.)

While the above list is not comprehensive, it gives you an idea.

     On another less inspiring note, it is imperative that we work together to get the school budget passed.  The newly revised budget has a 1.76% increase over the current school year. If the budget goes down again and we are forced to austerity, it will be disastrous. The students in our community are entitled to the best education possible and austerity is not it. Please contribute to the process and go vote. Bring a like-minded friend with you. We need everyone’s support.

     Finally, I want to take this opportunity to wish those who are beginning a permanent vacation, via retirement, a long, healthy, and happy adventure. Enjoy it; you have earned it! There are a few members of the KTF Board of Directors who will be retiring this year. A special thank you to Dianne Fried who has served as editor of The Torch for the last nine years, to Pat Neher who has served as a building rep for MCM and as the professional development chairperson; and to Jean McGarry who has been the lead building rep at KHS. Thank you all for your many years of service and dedication. We will definitely miss you.

     Enjoy the summer. Rest, relax, and rejuvenate; September is right around the corner…

                                                       Lauri Naccarato,

                                                       President, of the KTF

Agency Fee Payment Refund

     This is to notify you that pursuant to Section 208 of the Public Employent Act, Article XIV of the Civil Service Law (Taylor Law), you are eligible for a partial refund of the fee paid for the upcoming 2008-09 year. Please submit your request and reasons for the refund, in writing, to me by June 30, 2008.

 NEWLY TENURED

    The Kingston Schools conferred tenure upon 26 probationary teachers in May. Tenure establishes due process rights for teachers. They cannot be arbitrarily dismissed from their positions for arbitrary and capricious reasons. The AAPR has become a means of evaluating teachers and providing a process for granting tenure and for providing grounds for dismissal.

     Congratulations to the following new tenured teachers:

Dianne Berardi, Kristy Canavan, Karen Clegg, Shay Crowley, Lynn Donnaruma, Lucas Fox, James Franklin, Beverly Goldpaugh, Lisa Graziano, Jennifer Gribbin, Amy Harnden, Nicole Hildenbrand, Deborah Izzo, Matt Johnson, Corinna Kazolias, Edward Leach, Teresa Myers, Matthew Nerney, Yvonne Parker, Kathleen Reuben, Jessica Roeber, Daniel Shaut, Blake Swan, Rachel Swersey, Allyson Whittaker, and Deborah Winne.

               NINETEEN TEACHERS RETIRE

    The Board of Education has accepted the resignations and retirements of the following teachers:

Bruce Abrams, Johanna Byron, Rosemary Cyr, Dianne Fried, Ken Fried, Helen Goho, Jim Gregory, Barbara Isaacs, Kathleen Kachmor, Frances Kuzsman, Bonnie Lester, Pauline Mancuso, Jean McGarry, Karen MacKenzie, John Motiarty, Patricia Neher, Juanita Rockwell, Cynthis Rose, and Leslie Siegel.

      Congratulations on the completion of wonderful careers in Kingston. All retirees, as well as graduating KTF seniors, parents, and community members will be honored at the Apple Gala at Wiltwyck Golf Club, 4-7 pm, on Wednesday, June 25. Tickets, at $30, are available from Mary Netter at KHS.

                            ESP RETIREES

     Several members with long terms of service to the district will be among the 2008 retirees from the ranks of the Employee Support Professionals and the Civil Service Employees Association. The ESP retirees are: Sharon Daw, Eldena Dolan, Margaret Espey, Eileen Gulisano, Josephine Kennedy, Margaret Miggins, and Genevieve Valk.

     Retiring from CSEA: James Fabiano and Remson Richter.

     Best wishes for a happy, healthy retirement. 

                       KRTF—ON THE MOVE!

     On June 14, the Kingston Retired Teachers’ Federation had its luncheon at the Ship Lantern Inn. After enjoying an excellent meal, those in attendance participated in the selection of our scholarship winners. They were:

High School: Danielle Tevlowitz and Keri Leigh Kelly

Continuing College: Matthew Narolewski and Reid Martin    

     On July 24, the KRTF will have its traditional trip to the Saratoga Race track, followed by a very rewarding stop at Red’s to spend our winnings (?). Call Karen Aspromonte at 331-9378, for information.

                Thank you all!

     On April 22, I fell in the hallway of the Edson School and badly broke my arm. Since then, I have been fed, transported, flowered, carded, and called by so many of you from the KCS community. Ken and I want to thank you for your love and support.  Dianne and Ken Fried

                 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

     I would like to take my last opportunity as your editor to thank some of the people who have made my 37 years in Kingston a journey that I have loved and one that I wish for all of you.

     I have had many champions over the eyars. Betty Madonna, Principal of the Meagher School, blew up a party balloon filled with support and creativity and gave it to me my tenure year and I have carried it around with me ever since. I have written in the past abou the learned Howard Bayewitz, the beloved Biutch Zullo, and the eloquent Vince Voerg. These men halped craft the foundation of the union we have TODAY. Stu Spoljaric, our past president, is everyone’s hero and we all owe him our gratitude for his power to envision the future and change the world. All of my brave women friends who have battled life threatening illnesses atill came to work whenthey were well enough…giveme pause and hope.Their indomitable spirit is an inspiration and a testament to their dedication to our profession. My husband, Ken, is a quiet, behind the scenes 4th grade teacher who reinvented himself to work with GED students and incarcerated youth at the end of his career. It would do us all good to reflect on our strengths and passions and chart new courses throughout our careers. Deb Fitzgerald is a teacher who provides children with special needs with the special gifts of a teacher who knows that no child is disposable and no child deserves than her best every day. She is true grit. Secretaries are the backbone of the district and the advocates of children and families and their work often goes unrecognized. Patricia Gleason was the heart of the gifted and talented program. She gave more of herself to this district than anyone I know and the students who were involved in her program have proppered beyond belief. Jim Newlands taught me to step out of my comfort zone and gave me a second career. Liz Constant knew that without humor, this job is impossible. NCLB and many other regulations have taken the fun out of teaching. But the person that I have gone to every year to find my compass and fill my cup has been Suzanne Jordan. She is a genuine treasure and few in the district know the full extent of her influence in their daily lives. She is thoughtful and fair. She is impatient with ignorance and apathy and will not tolerate meanness. She can be counted on to speak the truth when others only whisper behind closed doors. If in doubt, I think…what would Suzanne do? I am so grateful to her for being there for me, and all of us.

     I cannot leave my career without acknowledging Helen P. Huntley, my 5th grade teacher, who took a girl who could barely read and put her in the hall with a boy who could not yet read and made a teacher out of me. As teachers, we never know where our words and actions will lead. Best wishes to you all.  Dianne

        KINGSTON TRUST FUND

        PO Box 4461, Kingston, NY 12402

    307 Wall Street, 3rd floor, 845-338-5422

      E-Mail:Kathy@kingstontrustfund.com

        PONY MAIL TO: Kathy @ Central

           Medical & Dental Coverage

HMO: Employee MONTHLY contribution amounts

          for the 2008-2009 school year:

                  KTF Teachers Unit

CDPHP    Single $29.59    Family $  75.90

GHI           Single $41.45    Family $105.70

MVP         Single $36.45    Family $  94.33

                       ESP Unit

CDPHP    Single $14.79    Family $  37.95

GHI           Single $20.72    Family $  52.85

MVP         Single $18.22    Family $  47.16

Active employees contribution payment is via

payroll deduction determined by:

Monthly cost x12 = Total yearly contribution

Total contribution divided by 20 Paychecks

Totals Payroll deduction per Paycheck.

NOTE: Parents of college graduates covered by

CDPHP, GHI,or MVP must contact the Kingston

Trust Office to report the graduation.  For HMO’s,

coverage ends in the month of graduation.

COBRA eligibility also occurs.

           Full-Time Student Documentation

 Members are responsible for TIMELY updating

the status of all dependents 19 and older TWICE

ANNUALLY. Full time student documentation and

dependent status verification is required to be filed

with the plan within 60 days of each school term.

Coverage for dependent 19 and older is terminated

automatically at the end of each school term,

(i.e. 8/31,1/31.)

     The deadline to submit Fall 2008 semester

documentation is August 31, 2008.  Documentation

submitted after that date will result in no coverage

as of September 1. If documentation is submitted

after the deadline, the effective date will be the first

of the following month. Failure to provide timely

updated status will result in non-payment or delayed

payment of prescription drug coverage and other

benefits.

       

      OUT OF AREA REGISTRATION

                 College Students

Any dependent child attending college outside a

75-mile radius of Kingston, NY should be registered

as an Out-of Area College student.Members please

list OOA status on NHAI Dependent Status

Questionnaire. Submit form to the Trust Office.         

DIALING MISCUE: There is a company in Lansing,

Michigan that has an 800 number and they have

received many calls from Trust members.

The NHAI Phone Number is: 1-888-679-2400.

Please dial accurately and correctly.    

               DENTAL BENEFIT UPGRADES

     The Board of Trustees of the Kingston Trust Fund met on May 20 and passed the following amendments * involving Class 4 coverage to the Dental Plan:   

Dental Services Covered as of January 1, 2008 – Amended as of July 1, 2008

 

Dental Benefits

Dental Benefits will be paid in accordance with the following schedule with no deductible up to the maximum benefit.

Class 1—Preventive Benefits

Class 2—Basic Restorative Benefit

Class 3—Major Restorative Benefit

Class 4—Dentures & Bridges

 

Orthodontia (children to age 19)

TMJ Treatment (see health plan)

NHAI Dental PPO Providers

 

80%

70%

60%

60%

 

50%

Not covered

Out of Network Providers

 

60%

60%

50%

*50% (as of 7/1/2008)

Not covered

Not covered

 

Class 4

Major Services

 

Class 4 Major Services provided by PPO Providers shall include the following effective January 1, 2008 provided the Member has been covered under this Plan or another dental plan covering such major services for the previous 12 months prior to the date of service (HIPAA Certificate or proof of coverage is required):

1.  New bridges

2.  New dentures

3.  *Implants or any prosthetic device attached to them or precision or semi-precision attachments shall be covered effective July 1, 2008 up to a maximum of $750 per tooth, subject to the annual benefit limit the same as any other dental procedure.

Periodontal maintenance is limited to twice in any Benefit Year period or in conjunction with regular cleanings with no more than 4 visits/cleanings per Benefit Year provided the member has had periodontal surgery or a history of periodontal disease.

     Since January 1, 2008, new dental benefits have included:

  1. A new PPO provider coverage network with increased rate coverage,
  2. Class 3 recognition of Major Restorative Benefits of Root Canals and Crowns;
  3. Class 4 coverage, including Out of Network Coverage, of New dentures and bridges;
  4. Class 4 coverage of Medically necessary Implants, prosthetic devices, and precious and semi-precious attachments;
  5. Orthodontia Coverage for Children.

       

                                                

                                        RED FLAG

                                   Hugh M. Spoljaric,  Executive Director,  Kingston Trust Fund     

     Many will recall 2004 and the pronouncement by President Bush that Social Security was running out of money and that only privatization would save it. It was part of the overall impact statements related to baby boomers and their coming of retirement age. And, another key item on the agenda was the cost of retirement benefits. Since retiree benefits first came about, they were always defined as benefits earned during active work and to be enjoyed in later years. Now, with this administration, they were becoming defined as benefits with no connection to past, active employment. They were corporate ‘extras’ that were no longer affordable. The focus was shifted from corporate responsibility for a “defined benefit” to a “defined contribution” of the employee. For example, Health Savings Plans were promoted as a way for employees to pay for post-employment health insurance. The agenda was being actively promoted in the business community. Many employees in public service have been wiling to accept lower salaries during their working lives in exchange for the benefit of health insurance coverage in retirement, and, now, they wanted to change the rules. The gain from the trade-off is now in jeopardy. One of the major drivers of this movement is the newly established Governmental Accounting Standards Board 45 (GASB 45) reporting standard.

     GASB 45 is not a federal agency. It has no ability to enforce its requirements on public employers. It is an independent, private-sector organization that provides national, state, and local governments with a view of what GASB believes should be considered as acceptable accounting standards. As such, any audit or actuarial report should include GASB standards. Their web site, www.GASB.org, states that they are an objective, independent body that brings integrity to the “process of issuing neutral, unbiased accounting and financial reporting standards that are relevant in the government environment.” There is no evidence to verify whether the claim is valid.

     GASB 45 sets guidelines, very subjectively and with much assumption, on how public employers should report the costs of retirement benefits, especially health insurance. In the past, employers funded retiree benefits on a ‘pay as you go’ basis and reported on year-to-year costs. GASB 45 provides for periodic actuarial reporting of liabilities from 10-30 years ahead. Suffice it to say, these actuarial projections are highly speculative and are based on the subjective assumptions of the actuarial. At first glance, on a worst-case scenario, any 30-year projection of costs would portray obligations of horrific proportions. Maybe this is the one ‘shock and awe’ where the Bush administration could play another fear card. It would be the impetus to promote defined contribution plans.

     The publisher of the CPA Journal and Vice-President of the Society of Certified Public Accountants of New York State, as expected, supports GASB 45. His name is Louis Grumet. He is past President of the School Boards Association of NYS, an active supporter of GASB 45. The actuaries are employed by and compensated by the employer. If there was ever a stacked deck against the worker, this is it!

     There are six accepted actuarial methods and assumptions are a major part of the report. Those assumptions are used to project 30 years into the future. In 1911, would they have assumed that health insurance would be a wartime benefit? In 1941, would they have assumed that health insurance would be an earned retirement benefit. And, in 1971, would they have assumed that in 2001, the cost of the benefit would be where it is today. Ironically, there has been a tendency to blame the consumer of health care and the result is to change patient behavior through higher sharing of costs. Yet, few government studies identify the supply side for escalating costs. The combination of the two results in less preventative care and the probability of greater care long term.

      GASB 45, with its subjective and self-serving assumptions, is another disguised attempt to eliminate employee post-employment benefits.  The public following, like sheep being led to slaughter, and silence has been deafening. It’s not a mandate, it has no enforcement authority, yet people are accepting of it, perhaps because there is no requirement to fund the liability.  And, we all know how they will try to fund the liability. It will be on the backs of the workers, a new definition of privatization.

     There is a void of information, discussion, and awareness on the subject for most, but it has been a Trust issue for two years. It’s a ‘red flag’ for all employees in protecting their retiree benefits, and, now, you are aware.