Volume XXXIX, No. 1 September 4, 2001


By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    First off, let me take this opportunity to welcome back for the start of a new school year those members who have been off for the summer. For those PCT members whose positions had them working in the summer, thank you for your efforts to allow us to begin the year smoothly. Finally, allow me to welcome the over thirty new staff and wish them the best as they begin their careers in Plainview-Old Bethpage.

    It has been my custom in my first Pledge column each year to look ahead to the issues we can expect to confront. Just prior to working on this edition of the Pledge, President of the Board of Education Evy Rothman wrote to seek our thoughts on what the goals of the district should be for the 2001-02 school year. In my response to her, I enumerated ten proposed goals for the school district that could profitably occupy our thoughts and talents for at least this year.

Here they are.

1 - Promote an appropriate role for parents in our schools distinct from that of the professional staff.

2 - Review current reading programs with the view of building a cohesive reading program.

3 - Explore the possibility of creating an in-district childcare program for the members of the staff.

4 - Create a sensible, staff-supported professional development program.

5 - Develop a strategy to promote innovation in the classrooms of the district.

6 - Develop and promulgate local academic standards distinct from those of the state.

7 - Explore strategies to improve student attendance and punctuality.

8 - Study the administrative structure of the district to determine the extent to which it may be streamlined.

                    9 - Monitor and review the district’s implementation of the Save Schools                       Legislation.

10 - Develop a multi-year plan to air-condition the district’s classrooms.

    These proposed goals address conditions in our district that mitigate against our being as good as we might be. Some of them have been worked on before but appear to require additional effort.

    What the Board of Education will finally choose for their goals and objectives, I don’t know. We can only hope that they will see the wisdom of our proposals.


    There will need to be a special PCT election to fill vacancies in the offices of Vice-President for Elementary Schools and Treasurer. The election is tentatively scheduled for October 29, 2001.

    All PCT members are constitutionally eligible to run for Treasurer. Elementary School Vice-President candidates must be teachers working in an elementary school.

    To be a candidate for PCT office, you must submit to the PCT Office an official nominating petition with the signatures of 10 members by Friday, October 5, 2001.

    In the interim, the PCT Executive Board will elect acting officers pursuant to the PCT Constitution.


    Each year members of the PCT gather at the start of the new school year to remember and honor those who retired in June, to welcome our newest members and to gather with all of our members, both active and retired, to celebrate our union.

    Again this year, we will party at the Woodbury Country Club between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 18, 2001. The cost to members of the PCT will be $10.

    SRC reps will begin their collections the week of September 11. Checks should be made out to PCT.


    The contract between the Teacher Unit of the PCT and the school district calls for new teachers to attend an orientation course of fifteen hours duration for which participants receive one in-service credit. The meeting dates for this year’s course are as follows: September 11, 20, 24; October 3, 11, 16, 24 and 29. 


    Volunteers are needed to serve on the Staff Development Committee. Two positions are to be filled. The Staff Development Committee is composed of three representatives from the PCT and three managers chosen by the Superintendent of Schools. The charge of the committee is to develop the district’s staff development program each year.

    Members wishing to serve should send their names to PCT Vice-President Cindy Feldman at the PCT Office.

    Meetings of the Staff Development Committee take place during the school day.



    Members who believe that they have accumulated enough credits over the summer to move a lane on the salary schedule are advised to notify the Personnel Office by September 10, 2001. This will ensure retroactive salary when the district receives a transcript from the school issuing the credits.

    Failure to notify the Personnel Office will mean that the pay increase will not begin until February.


    PCT members wishing to start a 403b account or change their contributions to existing accounts (tax sheltered annuities) are reminded that they have until September 15, 2001. The next contractual deadline for changes is January 15, 2002.

    Members should further understand that recent changes in the tax code permit an increase in the yearly amount that may be contributed to an account. Effective for the 2002 tax year, contributions may be increased to $11,000 per year. The contribution limit will increase by $1000 each year through 2006.



    This summer, governing bodies of both the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) ratified an agreement through which they will cooperate in joint projects.

    It is the hope of many that this will begin a process of breaking down the barriers to a merger of the nations two largest education unions, a merger that the PCT has long supported and promoted.

    Both unions have announced a joint conference on the theme of "Negotiating Health Care for Educators and Other Public Employees." The conference will take place October 9-11 in San Diego. Commenting on the announcement, PCT President Morty Rosenfeld said, "I would have preferred the first joint effort to have involved members at the grassroots level - maybe even people who have been against merger - but it is a beginning."


    The PCT has been a vocal supporter of the Sweat Free Schools Campaign sponsored by the Labor Religion Coalition. Leaders of the PCT have convinced NEA/New York, our state organization, to also support the campaign. The campaign has sought to challenge the exploitation of children in the third world whose labor goes into the manufacture of much of the athletic equipment purchased by school districts.

    Under current law, districts are obliged to make most major purchases from the lowest bidder providing the item of a particular quality.

    A bill passed by both houses of the New York State Legislature would permit school districts to consider the labor conditions in the factories where the items they purchase are made. They would no longer be forced to purchase the items of the lowest bidder if the articles were made in sweatshop conditions. The bill awaits the Governor’s signature. The PCT has written to him urging him to sign it.



    Changes in flex benefits deductions are made through the Business Office in November. It is not too soon, therefore, for members to start thinking of changes they may wish to make. Now is a good time to review medical expenses not covered by insurance which could be paid for with pre-tax dollars from one’s flexible medical spending account.

    The PCT Office recently became aware that quite a few members do not flex their family health insurance premiums, a terrible mistake in that paying them with pre-tax dollars reduces their net cost by as much as 28% depending on one’s tax bracket. It simply makes no sense to not flex these premiums.


    September is the month for members wishing to change their individual excess major medical and dental coverages to family. Forms to effect these changes have been sent to the schools. Simply fill them out and return to the PCT Office through inter-office mail.


    Within the first two weeks of school, members will receive a Contract Survey Form from PCT Secretary and Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson. It is through this form that the PCT seeks to determine if there are any violations of our contract with the district. A contract that isn’t enforced isn’t worth very much.

    When you receive your survey form, please take the time to fill it out carefully and return it promptly to the PCT Office.

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