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A LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY

From: The Executive Officers of the Kingston Teachers Federation, representing Teachers, Nurses, Secretaries, Paraprofessionals, Monitors, Retirees, and Substitutes Teachers

In 1967, an important lesson was learned from Congressman Joseph Resnick. As he accompanied a young man to the Selective Service Board offices, he told the person that if one does not ask the right questions, then one does not get the right answers. The establishment will not volunteer any information. As teachers and support professionals, full disclosure is a necessary component for learning. Full disclosure and facts dont seem to matter to those who speak for the Kingston Schools. We can no longer stand by and allow misinformation to pass for the truth, and to be blamed for issues that are the responsibility of others.

        Fact: The teachers and support professionals do pay 5% of the cost of health insurance.

 

        Fact: The KTF self-insured health Trust has saved the district a minimum gross average of $500,000/year, every year, since 1997.

 

        Fact: A legal settlement was necessary to rectify what we believed to be misrepresentations in the actual cost of health insurance when the Trust took over in 1997.

 

        Fact: The district contributed 21%, 26%, and 37% less than the intended amount to be funded for health insurance from 1998-2001.

q       The total gross dollar difference of this unintended windfall to the district was $6,130,352!

(The district came in with two zero budgets during this time.)

 

        Fact: The funding formula was readjusted last year to reflect the intended 5% savings to the district.

        FACT: The Trusts self-funded health insurance is projected to receive $8.7 million in funding for this year.

v    For next year, the district has informed the Trust that there is NO INCREASE IN PREMIUM RATES.

*This has not been expressed in budget presentations.*

 

Of the $6,130,352 in windfall savings to the district from 1998-2001, the Trust agreed to a reimbursement of $1.9 million to be repaid over three years.

 

        Fact: The Trust saved the district $4,030,352 over a three year period. The teachers accepted yearly raises of 1 % from 1995-2001.

v    The money saved by the Trust paid for every teacher and support professional raise several times over!

We have done more than our part. We have paid for ourselves. Obviously, most of the savings was not spent on us and it doesnt seem to have gone for education. We have had to do more with less every year. What happened?

   Administrators were bought out.

Since 1996, the district has eliminated supervisory staff who directly impacted classroom instruction. There were 96 fewer teachers in 1998 than in the previous year. Psychologists and social workers were cut by 50%. The district failed to perform three-year and yearly special education reviews and was red-flagged by the state. Principals were arbitrarily transferred and assigned additional roles as department chairs were eliminated. There was no full time director of reading. There was a lack of reading and math labs. The BOCES film library was eliminated. Technology development was non-existent or haphazard. Safety was never adequately addressed. No money was saved for Dietz Stadium renovations. There have been few capital improvements. Seven years ago, we informed the district that the population in first grade was nearly double the graduating class, yet, to date, no accommodations have been made.

     Attendance, graduation, and discipline policies were arbitrarily changed.

     No staff development or training was provided to address the state standards.

     Grade level meetings were abolished.

     Textbook adoption review was eliminated.

     No state curriculums were provided to teachers.

     Supplies were severely cut back.

     Poorer quality goods and supplies, with limited life expectancies, were ordered.

     Textbook orders were half filled.

     Library budgets were cut 40%.

     The alternative school was closed and students were transferred to the high school with no additional services added.

     Sophie Finn School was operated as an elementary school with limited supplies and no full time Principal.

     Custodians were cut.

The district failed to meet state mandates on Special Education Reviews, Annual Professional Performance Reviews, Academic Intervention Services, Local Assistance Plans, a Comprehensive District Education Plan, a collaboratively developed Code of Conduct and Healthy Schools. The district failed to proceed on identifying a mold problem that had affected an entire first grade class at the Zena School. The KTF had to gather and send materials to a private lab for confirmation before the district acted.

These are the embarrassments and they all happened prior to 2002. What benefits teachers-- safety, resources, and services, also benefits children. Substance is more important than image.

--Through it all, the educators held it together!--

During this time, the teachers and staff added three additional days to the calendar. Two nighttime parent meetings were added at elementary schools. More special education students have been added to the mainstream classroom with teachers making all the modifications. Teachers have the added job of requisitioning and inventorying all supplies. There are increased testing mandates at every level. Veteran teachers have voluntarily mentored all new teachers.

The KTF performs community outreach programs as a major participant and supporter of the Kids Classic, Relay for Life, Blood and Organ Donor Drives, the 1000 Book Kid Club, and the Ulster County Pantry Drive. We are active in the Ulster Performing Arts Center, Special Olympics, the Kingston Area Library, and Ulster County Mental Health. We donated, in a one-day drive, $18,500 to the September 11 Fund. We serve on agency and community boards. Our health Trust TPA awards a yearly $1000 scholarship and our Apple Gala in June has awarded over $55,000 in scholarships. Since 1993, the Gala has honored 50 community members, 125 parents, and every school retiree.

Teachers and support professionals may be convenient targets, but the full disclosure of facts proves that we have been good, loyal, responsible, and dedicated members of the school community. We are very proud to be teachers and educators and, regardless of the obstacles and prejudices placed in the way, year after year, we have performed our duties for the children of this community. Full disclosure and facts do matter to us. Unfortunately, in this community, when the judgment is weak, the prejudice is strong.

Based on the unwillingness of the district to fully disclose all the facts, we feel compelled to tell the other side of the story.

Respectfully,

 

Hugh M. Spoljaric, Pres.

Joan White, Pres. ESP

Vincent G. Voerg, VP

Donald J. Sweeney, Acting Pres.

Retirees Kathy Werner, VP

Mae Stark, Pres. Substitutes

Suzanne Jordan, Griev.Ch.

RoseMarie Maresca, Treasurer

Lauri J. Naccarato, Secretary

And, 30 other Officers and members of the Board of Directors.