(Selected Articles from) The Torch - March 2001
NYSUT Local 781 AFL-CIO - Vol 33 No.6
The Bottom Line
"Assume the Debt"

Many of us have been in the position of "responsible parent" when one of our children made a commitment that they could not satisfy. It could have been a candy in the supermarket that they wanted (and started eating) or an outing (that everyone was going to) or the magazine subscriptions that everyone in class had to sell. Parents step forward and honor the commitment. At times, parents may have asked their children do without, to wait,to be patient, and next time we promise to come through.

Recently, there have been larger societal movements where African-Americans have asked the United states government to pay reparations for slavery. Jews have asked for compensation for the Holocaust. American citizens of Asian ancestry were interned during WWII and they (if they were still alive) received compensation in 1992. Its all about taking responsibility for the action taken or not taken. In many cases, it may involve people today who had no direct involvement in the event. Yet, the reasoning is that the present people must take responsibility for past events.

In the past six months, I have received correspondence with many members at all of the schools in the district, detailing their professional work since our last contract in 1995. In stating how they have been impacted during the past six years, there are few positives and a litany of negatives. Shortages of supplies, lack of curriculums, shortages of services, increased duties, increased standards (no staff development), and a frustration with a system that seems to lack direction and leadership. In short, a deterioration of working conditions and a lack of support in the maintanence and enhancement of existing programs.

In 1997, supervisors and directors (save two) were eliminated. Budgets were cut to the bone. The number of teachers went from 602 in 1997 to only 519 in 1998, a decrease of 16%. Class sizes increased(obviously). 12:1:1 classes went to 15:1:1. Special services (Social workers, psychologists)were halved. District enrollment increased 6% from 7,694 to 8,130. Classes that needed substitutes were covered by other teachers. SRT reviews were redundant delays meant to preserve classifications.Parent conferences became more numerous.

In the past five years, there have been 23 different members of the Board of Education. There is only one member who was there six years ago and no members who have been there for all six years. They are fond of looking ahead, of optimistically wiping the slate clean, and of forgetting a recent past that we have endured.. They are today's government that has to accept responsibility for the past even though they didn't live it. It's time to express an appreciation for those who keep the schools together every day.

It's time to pay up. Assume the debt, now!

And that's the Bottom Line.

KTF APPRECIATION FROM UPAC

As a token of UPAC's appreciation for the longtime support of the KTF, a reduced group rate (from $22) to $16 a ticket is being offered for Eric Bogosian's WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE on April 28 at 8 pm. Bogosian is best known for "Talk Radio" and is known for his perceptive, profane, adult-oriented performances (along the line of a Dennis Miller).

The Broadway Cafe, under the management of Joe and Karen Fitzgerald is available for show night beginning at 5:30 for KTF groups wishing to have a small reception (for a couple of bucks more) before the show. It's a great way to begin ending the year. Call your group orders into UPAC at 339-6088.



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The Torch (Online Version)


December 2000       NYSUT Local 781 AFL-CIO      Vol 33 No.4

MOLD, FUMES HIT THREE SCHOOLS

Three elementary schools have been affected by environmental problems that have impacted staff members. Zena School experienced a mold problem in one room that is located directly below a bathroom. The teacher suffered headaches nausea, and various allergy symptoms. Ceiling tiles were stained and the carpet was 32 years old and had been wet. The KTF Healthy Schools Committee, led by Nick Avossa, did a thorough examination of the room. Samples of carpet and mold were collected and the KTF's lead technical expert, Tom Brannick, recommended that they be sent to a laboratory, Analytical Services, Inc. in Vermont. The results showed a mold problem that could affect those individuals who have allergies.

During the Thanksgiving break, the teacher's classroom was relocated and the carpeting and tiles removed. The recommendation was for the room to be sealed and washed down from ceiling to floor, and for tile to be in- stalled in place of the carpeting. Members at Chambers experienced headaches and a representative from OSHA did an air quality check in the building. All gasses were within limits with carbon dioxide having the highest differentiation. KTF research has indicated that air quality test limits are very liberal and that there are many variations in testing conditions that may influence the results of a test. For that reason, the KTF did not call for the testing by OSHA. A positive result is a remote possibility.

At Crosby, new windows were installed. During the installation, debris from the construction materials drifted into the school building. Classrooms and the stage had levels of dust on them. Teachers suffered headaches and respiratory discomfort. The KTF asked for the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the construct- ion materials. A 'clean' copy that is readable will be acquired from the district as the faxed sheet was illegible. Dust and debris have been collected from the site. After a gas smell affected the building on November 17, the district representative, Phil Sinagra, met with staff and parents. His recommendation was to extend the height of the Crosby chimney by 4 feet to eliminate exhaust fumes from re-entering the building. The work was scheduled to begin immediately.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Under EEOC's guidelines, sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination. Harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when: a) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment; b) submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; c) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. An employer is responsible for acts of sexual harassment in the workplace where the employer (or its agent i.e. teachers and staff) knows or should have known of the conduct, unless it can be shown that it took immediate and appropriate corrective action. (EEOC)

Sexual harassment can include same sex harassment. Students in the school are protected under the Title VII conditions as well. Administration should be informed of any concerns. The district has a hearing officer for complaints of sexual harassment.

 

PARKING NO FUN. FOR FINN

Faculty and staff at Sophie Finn have received parking tickets from the Kingston Police for illegal parking. The problem is that adequate parking does not exist. Additionally, designated Sophie Finn spots behind KHS are used by KHS staff (new staff are unaware) and by (illegally) students. Last year, when the building was an alternative school, teachers began their work day like KHS. As an elementary school this year, the day begins after KHS is in session. Teachers at Finn have an additional problem in that they do not have a Principal on site to advocate for them. The KTF has presented the issue to administration for a solution.

 

RETIREES TRIPLE CONTRIBUTIONS TO VOTE/COPE

The $2826 response to our VOTE/COPE campaign was triple the 1999 contributions. For this magnificent effort the KRTF thanks each of you who contributed.

...check back soon. Additional articles from this issue will be added soon.


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