THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE
CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
Volume XXXVII, No. 5 January 19, 2000
by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld
As of this date, the POB Board of Education has voted to open the Pasadena School for the 2000-01 school year, drawn new attendance boundaries for the elementary and middle schools and received reports from its Elementary and Middle School Transition Committees calling for all but the current seventh grade to attend school next year in accordance with the new boundaries. The Board has additionally voted in favor of a recommendation by the Superintendent to allow the current seventh graders to graduate from the schools they presently attend.
The Board of Education has come under intense pressure from some of the parents of children who will have to change schools next year unless they are grand-fathered to remain in their current schools. Each wants some grade grand-fathered. Each would have us understand that unless children are permitted to "graduate" from their current schools, irreparable harm will come to them. How easy it is for lives of great promise to founder on the rocks of attending a different school. How sad it is that people can be blinded by such foolishness to the point where they lose sight of why it is that we have been working to reorganize our district for several years. The community voted to spend more than $20,000,000 to increase the physical capacity of our schools, but now nobody wants to move into the newly created space.
The PCT Executive Board unanimously endorsed a recommendation by the Officers of the PCT to support the recommendation of the two Board of Education committees. Our elementary buildings are overcrowded and demand relief. Our class sizes are, in many cases, at the highest levels since the rapid expansion of our district in the 60's. We need to address this problem now. Additional space will allow us to. We have been telling the district for years that it is essential to balance our middle school populations so that the team teaching program can be implemented in the same manner at both schools.
The Transition Committees established by the Board of Education, carefully addressed the issue of grand-fathering and attempted to balance the need of some to not have their children move against the need of the entire student population and staff for a less crowded environment and smaller class size. Their conclusion is reasonable and worthy of support by the Board of Education.
On December 15, 1999, the school community was shocked by the sudden death of Lucian Veneziano while at work at the Kennedy High School. As word of his death passed through the school, a disturbing quiet gripped the building, broken only by the sobbing of students and staff. A very kind and decent human being left us much too soon, and people intuitively seemed to know that we might not get to know someone like him again soon.
Social studies teacher, coach, yearbook advisor, planner and chaperone of countless school events, community center leader and committed member of the PCT, these were all aspects of a man who enriched the lives of all who knew him. We were honored to know him.
STAFF DEVELOPMENT IDEAS?
The officers of the PCT have been attempting to work with the administration on making our contractual staff development hours more worthwhile. In the short term, where members have had an idea for an activity, PCT vice-president Cindy Feldman has often been able to work with Dr. LoPresti to make the activity a reality. Feedback from these programs suggests that they are much better received than many of the outsiders who have been brought in to hector us with the latest educationist blather.
Thus, if you have a staff development idea, get in touch with Cindy Feldman. She can be reached at 937-6382.
Longer range, new state mandated Professional Development Committee is working on a needs assessment to be distributed to the staff in the near future. From the responses to this questionnaire, the committee will plan future staff development days that will hopefully be better received.
The officers have also been talking with the Superintendent and members of the Board of Education on the need to have staff development coordinated by an experienced teacher - not a central office administrator. We need someone who can communicate with the staff about their continuing education needs as a colleague. We need someone who knows and enjoys teaching to coordinate a meaningful program for teachers. Our goal is to have such a position included in this years budget.
EXECUTIVE BOARD TRAINING HELD
On Tuesday, January 11, 2000, the PCT Officers held a training workshop for the SRC Representatives of our union. For some four hours, reps discussed their duties and responsibilities as union officials. Various aspects of our contracts were explored with the intent of giving the reps the tools they need to police our contracts in their buildings. The officers of the PCT have announced their intention to hold such sessions periodically in light of the fact that we have many SRC reps who are new to doing union work.
CUPCT HOLDS MEETING
TRAINING NEEDS HIGHLIGHTEDOn Wednesday, January 12, 2000, members of the Clerical Unit of the PCT gathered at the Stratford Road School for a general membership meeting.
Among the issues discussed was the almost universal need of the clerical staff for training in the use of the computers and software that have been introduced into the workplace. Members articulately expressed their frustration at having computers sitting on their desks loaded with programs that no one has ever explained to them. Others talked of the impossibility of learning the finer points of a program with the telephone ringing every two minutes and the boss asking for one thing or another.
It was abundantly clear that there is a need for computer training in the clerical unit. The logical thing would be for CUPCT members to be trained when the teachers have a half day. It remains to be seen if logic will prevail.
TRACT MINI-GRANT AWARDED
Chinese teachers April Song and Marisa Fang have been awarded a $2500 TRACT mini grant for their proposal to introduce their elementary school students to Chinese arts and crafts during Chinese Cultural Arts Week. Each day, a different artist will be invited to meet with students from two elementary schools to teach them to make Chinese artifacts. This is the largest mini-grant awarded by TRACT.
TRACT is a teacher center supported by teachers from a number of districts in Nassau County and housed in Mineola High School in Garden City Park. The Mini-Grant Program has as its goal the encouragement of innovative, collaborative and creative classroom projects that support state and national initiatives, research and high learning standards.
Members who are completing graduate courses this semester and who may be eligible to move a lane on the salary schedule as a result, must notify the Personnel Office by February 10, 2000, even if ones transcript will not be available by that date.
THE SUB SERVICE FIASCO
For several years the members of the Substitute Unit of the PCT have complained about their treatment by the service hired by the district to coordinate the hiring of substitutes. Uncertified people are routinely called when certified people are available, building preference lists are ignored and people are routinely punished by not being called if they ask too many questions. The current service simply neither meets the needs of the membership of the SUPCT nor the district. Something must be done.
The PCT has proposed to the Superintendent that our union take over the job of calling substitute teachers. We would be able to do it efficiently and in a way that gets the district the best suited person available on any given day.
It is hard to understand why the district appears unwilling to accept our offer. There would be no increase in cost to them and the service would be better. However, if they do not want us to do the job, the only sensible alternative is for them to hire a person and bring the job into the district the way it was years ago.
Robin Acerra and Christine Visbal attended the New York State Teachers Retirement System annual convention this November. An important item of business at the meeting was the revamping of the Member Annual Statement which members should have recently received. In addition, Joe McLaughlin was reelected teacher member of the Retirement Board. By this time all school principals should have received materials for the faculty rooms of all buildings regarding pre-retirement planning.
PCT ELECTION REMINDER
Nominating petitions for officer positions for the PCT, CUPCT and SUPCT must be submitted to the PCT Office by the close of business on February 15, 2000.
Blank petitions are available from the PCT Office.
The election of PCT officers will take place on April 5, 2000 at each workplace.
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