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THE TORCH: September 2006

THE BOTTOM LINE

     Hugh M. Spoljaric, President

              Kingston Teachers’ Federation             

                          “Count Me In!”  

         Last week, the former Governor of Texas, Anne Richards, passed away. She was noted for her quick wit and sharp dialogue. In referring to President Bush, whom she rarely agreed with, she said, “Poor baby, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.” At another time, she quipped, “He was born on third base and thinks that he hit a triple.” As we have worked our way around the bases, I  found an identity with her position in life; a position that is the story of most teachers. Most of us have had to get a hit, steal a base, and get advanced because someone else sacrificed. And, that brings us to where we are now and the power that we have to score some runs.

     Surely, the lack of promised federal funding of over $53 billion for No Child Left Behind, has left us to fend for ourselves and added to the burden of local taxpayers. The state has played along, especially with the sanctioning of federal reporting criteria that lessens the success of our efforts. Changing test and graduation rubrics in a culture of testing is nothing more than manipulation of the public discourse. The federal objective is clear, as it is with many of their programs, and that is to continually fit their square peg into the round hole. Make the results meet their objectives, not the objectives.

     At the end of the last session of New York State government, the Governor vetoed much of the NYSUT supported education legislation placed before him. His alignment with the federal agenda is undeniable. And, their overall solution is to privatize government services, again to meet their own corporate ends. People who despise government are now in charge of it and they victimize the public and public employees. For most of us who have earned our way around the bases, students, teachers, and the public, we need to work as role players on this team to score some runs. The path runs through the ballot box. “Count Me In!” is the response needed to answer the call in unison.

     Volunteer to go to bat for us, and for you, and to work to advance educational issues. Maybe, we weren’t born at home plate, but we can get there. A hit by one of us is a hit for all of us. “Count Me In!” for the KTF Phone Banks. “Count Me In!” for being registered to vote. “Count Me In!” for voting and supporting candidates who will advance a round peg into a round hole. “Count Me In!”.

     And, that’s the Bottom Line

                             NEW TEACHER SEMINARS

     The KTF will hold an hour-long meeting of all newly hired teachers on Thursday, September 28, at 3:30 pm, in the Bailey School Library. The KTF New Teacher Coordinator, Ann Bauch, will present an overview of the role of the KTF, programs, rights and responsibilities, and a portfolio of New Teacher materials.  

     NYSUT will hold a seminar at the Kingston Holiday Inn on Tuesday, October 3, from 3:30-8 pm. It is open to any “new member” with three or less years of service. Pre-registration applications are available from Building Reps and require a reservation check for $25 that will be refunded upon attendance.

     The agenda includes a light dinner, two workshops, and a Q and A session. Space is limited and the reservation deadline is Sept. 26.

                                  KTF PHONE BANKS

    Educational Action Chair Debi Wilcox is presently organizing the October Phone Banks for the November elections. As you know, this is an important election year vote. Members with 10 years or less experience are especially asked to respond with “Count Me In!”.

The programmed phone banks are at the NYSUT office and the KTF has scheduled KTF calling sessions. Members can volunteer for as little as a two-hour session and food is served. Contact a friend and participate! It’s our voice for education and for your career.

                                        E.A.G.L.E.S.

     Retiree Al Stein announces the annual formation of the Ed Adams Golf League for Educators and Staff. Although play began on Sept. 6 at the league’s course, Green Acres, new players are welcome for the Wednesday event. No partner is needed, the league fee is $37, with greens fees of $9. Contact Al at 336-5523 or at amcstein@hvc.rr.com.

                           MYER SCHOOL PLAYGROUND

     The Hurley Myer School’s PTA announces that volunteers are needed to participate in the construction of their new playground on Saturday, October 21. Contact Debi Wilcox at Myer for more info. 

                                 BLACKBOARD   

     NYS law requires all employees to receive instructional information on the NYS Right to Know law and on Blood Born Pathogens. Members can access the BOCES instructional site on their computers, view the presentation, and take the test. The testing site is available for the next month after which time delinquent members must attend an after school session to meet the requirement.           

              NEW? RETURNING FROM LEAVE?                         To be recognized and enrolled in the KTF, new hires, including those who are transferring membership, and those returning from leave, must join (rejoin) the KTF unit. See your Building Rep or contact the Membership Chair, Beth Guido, at Miller. Additionally, all members who would like to join the Moore Days Sick Bank must enroll (reenroll). Information is available from the MDSB Chairman, Glen Gallagher, at GW. MDSB committee members include Chairman Glenn Gallagher, Kathy Murphy, Jim Mooney, and Joe Previll.
ENROLLMENT: Members must submit a form donating at least one day to the bank. When a drive is held, another day must be donated. If your donated day is used, you do not have to donate another day at the time. Members returning from a semester's leave must rejoin the bank.
USE: The application form, along with an medical doctor's (MD) original note, written and presented on the doctor’s letterhead, addressing the diagnosis, illness and/or disability, the medical necessity involved, duration, and expected date of return, and sent via US Mail by and from the doctor's office to the Chairman, Glenn Gallagher at the George Washington School, 67 Wall St., Kingston, NY 12401. Under some circumstances, the committee has the right to request an additional note from another medical doctor. MDSB applications must be filed and approved PRIOR to any use of MDSB days.
Members may use up to 50 days a school year from the Bank. Days can be awarded only for personal illness, not for family illness.
           

                  THE SILVER LINING

          KINGSTON RETIRED TEACHERS’ FEDERATION

     Over 150 members of the KRTF, including 25 of the newly retired teachers, attended the annual “Not Back To School” luncheon during the first week of school when everyone else was working. Their next event will be a trip to the Hunterdon Hills Playhouse on September 25. For more information, contact the President, Don Sweeney, at (845) 679-8697.

VOTE/COPE: It’s that time of year, again, for retirees to offer your voluntary donation to NYSUT’s Political Action Committee. Your past contributions are appreciated.

         

           Julie Andrews Celebrates Her 69th Birthday
To commemorate her 69th birthday, actress/vocalist Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall for the  benefit of the AARP. One of the musical numbers she performed was "My Favorite Things" from the legendary movie "Sound Of Music."  However, the lyrics of the song were deliberately changed for the entertainment of her "blue hair" audience. Here are the lyrics she recited:
"Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting, Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings, Bundles of magazines tied up in string, These are a few of my favorite things.
Cadillacs and cataracts and hearing aids and glasses, Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses, pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings, These are a few of my favorite things.
When the pipes leak, When the bones creak, When the knees go bad, I simply remember my favorite things, And then I don't feel so bad.
Hot tea and crumpets, and corn pads for bunions, No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions, Bathrobes and heat pads and hot meals they bring, These are a few of my favorite things.
Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of sinnin', Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin', And we won't mention our short shrunken frames, When we remember our favorite things.
When the joints ache, When the hips break, When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had, And then I don't feel so bad."
Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted over four minutes, and repeated encores.
                      

                         

                                YOGA BREATHING   

     Coordinator M.J.Reiss announces that the Yoga Breathing classes will resume soon and she can be contacted at KHS for more info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                          THE TRUST TIMES

                         The Kingston Trust Fund 

    The last Tuesday in August was the time, and the Chambers School was the place for the first Kingston Trust Fund Stroke Screening. 91 KTF members signed up and all attended. The four tests offered by the Trust were for Carotid Artery Disease, Peripheral Arterial Disease, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, and Osteoporosis. Members paid only $10 for all four tests as the Trust paid for 90% of the actual costs. Members spent less than an hour having the tests performed. This Trust health insurance benefit was aimed at early diagnosis and prevention of strokes.

     The aggregate results of the screening were as follows:

Total Screened for Carotid Artery Disease:  91

Normal:  53

Moderate:  38

Possible significance:  0

Critical:  0

Total Screened for Peripheral Arterial Disease:  90

 

Normal:  86

Abnormal:  4

 

Total Screened for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm:  90

No Aneurysm:  90

Aneurysm:  0

Critical:  0

Total Screened for Osteoporosis:  74<>

Low Risk:  25

Moderate Risk:  22

High Risk:  27

                                                                         

ANNUAL Important Notice from KINGSTON TRUST NHAI   

     Prescription Drug Coverage and Medicare Part D

Please read this notice carefully and keep it where you can find it. This notice has information about your current prescription drug coverage with Kingston Trust administered by National Health Administrators, Inc. (NHAI) and the new Medicare prescription drug coverage available January 1, 2006 for people covered by Medicare.  It also tells you where to find more information to help you make decisions about your prescription drug coverage.

1.  Starting January 1, 2006,new Medicare prescription drug coverage will be available to everyone with Medicare.

2.  Kingston Teachers Federation (KTF) Trust has determined that the prescription drug coverage offered by the Kingston Trust NHAI Plan is expected to pay out as much or more than the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage will pay.  Therefore, your current drug covered has been determined to be “creditable” coverage.

3.  Read this notice carefully - it explains the options you have under Medicare prescription drug coverage, and can help you decide whether or not you want to enroll.

Starting January 1, 2006, prescription drug coverage will be available to everyone with Medicare through various Medicare prescription drug plans. All Medicare prescription drug plans will provide at least a standard level of coverage set by Medicare. Some plans might offer more coverage for a higher monthly premium.

Because your existing coverage is “creditable”, which means that it is , on average, at least as good as standard Medicare prescription drug coverage, you can keep your current NHAI coverage and not pay extra for the Medicare Part D coverage.  Nor will you be required to pay extra for the Medicare drug program if you later decide to enroll within 63 days of losing your present “creditable” drug coverage.

People with Medicare can enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan from November 15, 2005 through May 15, 2006.  However, because you have existing prescription drug coverage that, on average, is as good or better than Medicare coverage, you can choose to join a Medicare prescription drug plan later.  You will have the opportunity to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan between November 15th through December 31st each year.

If you decide to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan and drop your prescription drug coverage under the NHAI Plan…

If you drop your NHAI coverage with Kingston Trust and enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan, you will not be permitted to re-enroll in the Kingston Trust Rx program as long as you are covered by the Medicare Part D drug program.  You should compare your current coverage, including which drugs are covered, with the coverage and cost of the Medicare drug plans.

Your current coverage under the NHAI Plan pays for other health expenses, in addition to prescription drugs.  You will still be eligible to receive all of your current health and non-prescription drug benefits if you choose to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan.You essentially must make one of the following choices:

1.      Do nothing and you will continue to have the exact same drug coverage that you have under the NHAI plan for the Kingston Trust.  Remember, under the present NHAI drug program, you have an out of pocket limit on prescription copays (currently $1,000) and there is no Rx deductible, which is much less than the out of pocket limits under the Medicare drug program.  Full prescription coverage is provided to Retirees that is identical to the prescription drug coverage provided to active members under the NHAI plan for the Kingston Trust.

2.      Elect Medicare Part D Drug Coverage and Reject your NHAI Drug Coverage.  You will be totally responsible for paying the additional Medicare Part D premium (initially $37 per month or $444 a year) and the Medicare Drug Program will become your sole drug coverage.   Under Medicare Part D, you would be responsible for paying –

a.      100% of the first $250 in drug coverage;

b.     Then you will pay 25% of the cost of the next $2,000 in drug charges or $500;

c.      Then you pay 100% of the next $2,850 in drug charges.

d.     After you have met your out of pocket limit of $3,600 ($250 + $500 + $2,850), Medicare will then pay 95% of any drugs charges in excess of $,5,100.  There is no out of pocket limit under the Medicare Drug Program.

e.      The Medicare drug program excludes certain drugs from coverage (drugs for anorexia, weight loss, or weight gain, fertility drugs, drugs used for cosmetic purposes or hair growth; drugs used for symptomatic relief of cough and colds; prescriptions for vitamins and fluoride preparations, inpatient drugs, barbiturates (sleeping pills); Benzodiazepines (central nervous system depressants).

f.        You will NOT be eligible for any reimbursement under the NHAI Plan as long as you are covered under the Medicare drug program since reimbursement of your out of pocket drug expenses by any other plan may not be credited against your true Rx out of pocket expenses (TROOP) as required by the program.  The NHAI Coordination of Benefit rules will not apply to prescription drug coverage if you elect Medicare Part D drug coverage.

You should also know that if you drop or lose your NHAI coverage with the Kingston Trust and don’t enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage after your current coverage ends, you may pay more to enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage later.  After May 15, 2006, if you go 63 days or longer without prescription drug coverage that’s at least as good as Medicare’s prescription drug coverage; your monthly premium will go up at least 1% per month for every month after May 15, 2006 that you did not have that coverage.  For example, if you go nineteen months without coverage, your premium will always be at least 19% higher than what most other people pay.  You’ll have to pay this higher premium as long as you have Medicare drug coverage.  In addition, you may have to wait until next November to enroll.

For more information about this notice or

your current prescription drug coverage...

Contact the NHAI Executive or Compliance Office for further information.  NOTE: You may receive this notice at other times in the future such as before the next Medicare enrollment period (each November 15 to December 31) or if your current prescription coverage changes. You also may request a copy of this Notice at any time from the Kingston Trust Office.

For more information about your options under

Medicare prescription drug coverage...

More detailed information will be available in October 2005 in the “Medicare & You 2006” handbook.  You will get a copy of the handbook in the mail from Medicare.  You may also be contacted directly by Medicare prescription drug plans.  You can also get more information about Medicare prescription drug plans from these places:

     Visit www.medicare.gov for personalized help,

     Call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (see your copy of the Medicare & You handbook for their telephone number).

     Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

For people with limited income and resources, extra help paying for a Medicare prescription drug plan is available.  Information about this extra help is available from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  For more information about this extra help, visit SSA online at www.socialsecuritv.gov, or call them at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Remember:  Keep this notice. If you enroll in one of the new plans approved by Medicare which offer prescription drug coverage after May 15, 2006, you may need to give a copy of this notice when you join to show that you are not required to pay a higher premium amount.

     

      MEDICARE ELIGIBILITY – STATUS UPDATE REQUIRED 

 Retired members and their spouse must apply for Medicare benefits when they are first eligible.  Medicare Part B coverage must be applied for as of the first day of the month during you attain age 65, unless you are covered as an active employee or are covered as a dependent under your spouse’s plan and your spouse is actively employed).  A copy of your Medicare ID card (front and back) must be provided to the Trust Office, along with a Coverage Update when you or your spouse is first eligible for Medicare.

DENTAL CLAIMS OFFICE CHANGED 4/1/2006:Please mail all dental claims to the NHAI Claims Office, P. O. Box 5000, Endicott, NY 13761-5000. Also, please notify your dental providers of this address change.

                              TESTICULAR CANCER                              Most women are familiar with health self-examination procedures, but there has been less emphasis on male self-examination. Testicular cancer has received public attention via the public disclosure by cyclist Greg Armstrong. The presence of the disease has been noticed because many more males are practicing self-examination.       KTF Torch Editor Dianne Fried has made available a self-examination brochure for testicular cancer. They will not be distributed en masse, but all Building Reps have copies for anyone who desires it. As with many cancers, early diagnosis is the key and self-examination provides that early detection.