PCT PLEDGE

THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE

CONGRESS OF TEACHERS

Volume XXXVII, No. 7 March 20, 2000

 

NEW SUP’T SELECTED

by PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

On Monday evening the POB Board of Education appointed Dr. Martin Brooks as the new superintendent of schools effective on or about July 1, 2000.

Those who were waiting for the Board to announce the customary "global search" for a new superintendent will be surprised at the speed with which the Board of Education found a successor to Dr. Cavanna. Some thought, however, should temper that surprise.

Dr. Brooks has been the Superintendent of the Valley Stream Central High School District for some years. Before that, he was the superintendent of one of the elementary districts in Valley Stream. In reaching out to a sitting Long Island superintendent, the Board obviously felt they could hire someone about whom more could be known. The success or failure of Long Island superintendents is generally not as difficult to determine as it sometimes is when candidates come from far away.

It is not surprising, therefore, the Board looked for and found a sitting superintendent with a reputation as an educational leader and problem solver. The officers of the PCT have conveyed their congratulations to Dr. Brooks and announced their willingness to begin as soon as practicable to work with him on the problems that face him in his new challenge.

 

PCT/PAC DRIVE BEGINS

 

At the March 7th meeting of the PCT Executive Board, the Board adopted the officers’ recommendation that this year’s PCT/PAC drive be undertaken during the month of March. The recommended contribution is a minimum of $10 dollars for teachers and public librarians and $5 support personnel and substitute teachers.

Unlike many other unions, the PCT finances all of its political endeavors through a separate political action fund composed of voluntary contributions. These monies are used in Board of Education/School Budget, and Public Library elections as well as for elections for members of the New York State Legislature. In other words, PCT/PAC contributions are used in campaigns that directly impact the work that we do in POB.

Building Reps will be around soliciting PCT/PAC contributions. Members are asked to make their already difficult jobs easier by having a check made out to "PCT/PAC."

 

BUDGET WOES

This has been one of the most difficult budget development seasons in recent years. The Board of Education began the budget process with a proposed budget containing an almost $9 million increase due to the opening of the Pasadena School in September, the debt service on the bond issue passed last year, increases in heath insurance costs and the usual contractual increases. To gain some perspective on what such an increase would mean to the taxpayers of the community, a $9 million increase yields approximately $9 per hundred dollars of assessed valuation, with the average house assessed at about $7500. Thus the original draft of the budget would have caused taxes to rise about $675 for the average home in Plainview-Old Bethpage.

After a series of budget workshops and the hiring of Mr. Pat Niccolino as a consultant to the Board of Education, the current draft calls for an increase of approximately $4.95 per hundred of assessed valuation, a far cry from the beginning. All current staff positions are retained with some extra added for the opening of Pasadena. There is not enough staff to significantly lower the class sizes at the elementary school as was envisioned with the opening of Pasadena. It also is unclear at this time as to whether there will be enough staff for the Mattlin Middle School given the extra student population that school will have next year as a result of the unfortunate decision to grandfather so many students.

Thus far the Board has made no move to lower its outrageously high administrative costs, preferring to cut supplies and equipment and keep class sizes high. Perhaps, they have not yet realized that is the choice before them!

NEW SOCIAL SECURITY BOOKLET AVAILABLE

Those at or near retirement will be interested in the latest edition of the NEA Social Security & Medicare Fact Sheet which summarizes the benefits of the Social Security System including the changes that took place effective January 1, 2000.

Members wishing a copy should drop a note to the PCT Office. There is a limited supply, so please order only where there is need.

PRIVATIZATION & NEA

Just when you thought that Bob Chase and the leadership of the NEA had violated every last principle of unionism, from supporting working with management and throwing members out of teaching to performance pay which would tie teacher salaries to their students test scores on high stakes tests, now our high paid leaders are pushing a change in the NEA’s historic opposition to the privatization of public school services. Chase and company would have us do this apparently because our opposition to the private sector stealing our work has caused some in our society to think unkindly of us. So if some reactionary segments of the public don’t like us for our opposition to performance pay, we change our position. If they believe that aspects of our work should be privatized, then by all means let’s change our position. We never want to say no to anyone.

Our national leaders are fond of observing that one out of ever ten citizens of the United States is a member of the NEA. Stop and think about that figure - one out of ten. Clearly, however, that’s just a number to them. Chase and company couldn’t possibly realize the clout that could be mustered with such a membership. Otherwise, they would not be pursuing the defeatist agenda they have written for our organization.

 

PAY FOR EXTRA WORK

At our monthly meeting with the Superintendent of Schools on March 15, 2000, the officers of the PCT raised the issue of the difficulty our members are having getting payed for some of the extra work they do. Of particular concern has been MSTE, Literacy Collaborative, Reading Recovery and the new before/after school academic intervention. The problem has grown so severe that PCT Secretary/Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson sent each member a worksheet on which to record each extra assignment worked to be sure that in the end the appropriate pay for this work is received.

We were assured by the district that a special effort would be made to catch up on the monies still owed. Additionally, the PCT suggested to the administration that we mutually develop a pay schedule for these extra assignments, something like the one in place for coaching and extracurricular activities, that would provide for a more rational system than the one currently in place. The district agreed to work with us on this. More to follow on this item soon.

STAFF DEVELOPMENT

Also on the agenda of the monthly meeting with the Superintendent was the growing concern of the PCT for the essentially meaningless staff development program we have had this year. We informed the administration that there appears to be very little of substance planned for the remaining sessions of the year, and that given that fact the only rational thing to do is to face that fact and call off the remaining sessions.

The officers took great pains to point out that we negotiated the staff development clause in good faith. Implicit in that clause is the obligation of management to see to it that there is a meaningful program for the members to attend. Sitting and logging hours is akin to serving detention. The only problem is, we haven’t done anything wrong.

The officers renewed the PCT call for a teacher coordinator of staff development. In true professional environments, such as law and medicine, it is the practitioners who know what they need and who contribute professionally to developing continuing education programs. Until such time as we have such a program in POB the odds are quite good that so-called staff development will continue to be marking time.

NEA/NEW YORK

LOBBY DAY

Both retired and active members of the PCT traveled to Albany on Monday and Tuesday, March 13 & 14, 2000 to participate in the annual NEA/New York Lobby Day. This is a day set aside each spring for NEA/New York members from throughout the state to come to Albany to talk to their representatives about their concerns. This year the PCT was represented by Judi Alexanderson, Chair of the NEA/New York Political Action Committee, Morty Rosenfeld, Helen Cohn, President of the PCT Retiree Chapter, Jackie Pekar, Ellen and Irv Smyle and Joe Marcal.

One of the key issues of our lobbying this year is a cost of living adjustment (COLA) to the pensions of the state retirement systems. With both the Employee and Teacher Retirement Systems flush with money, and with the economy similarly thriving, this appears to be the best year in memory to get a COLA bill passed.

LEGISLATIVE

COCKTAIL PARTY

Each year along with the other NEA local unions on Long Island (Hicksville, Sewanhaka, Deer Park, Wyandanch, Hempstead clerical), the PCT participates in a legislative cocktail party at which members of the New York State Legislature from the Island come to address the education issues of the day. We, in turn, have an opportunity to tell them what we believe needs to happen on these issues.

This year’s Legislative Cocktail Party will be held on Thursday, April 13, 2000 at 7:00 PM at the Maine Maid Inn in Jericho.

Members of the PCT, particularly Executive Board members, who are interested in attending (at no cost) are asked to call the PCT office. This is a great opportunity to understand the connection between education and the politics of New York State.

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