PCT PLEDGE

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

Volume XXXIX, No. 7 March 7, 2002

 

GIVE US A BREAK

By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

One of the more disturbing aspects of the Superintendent’s proposed budget for the 2002-03 school year is his plan to add a half of an assistant principal at the POB Middle School. I would have thought that with our district having to begin to pay the interest costs of our recent building expansions, with health insurance costs significantly rising along with employee pension costs and the need for additional teachers to meet the needs of a student enrollment that continues to grow, I would have thought the last thing we would want to do is increase an already bloated administrative bureaucracy. What is it about the leaders of our school districts that blinds them to the fact that the layer upon layer of administration in our schools not only doesn’t teach students anything, they also often stifle the creativity and initiative of those who do teach, sapping their energy and will to teach all that they might.

One of the books I read over the recent vacation was Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, an account of the author’s experiences attempting to live on minimum wage in several cities in the United States. At first glance, Ehrenreich’s excellent book doesn’t seem to have much to do with the administrative bloat of public schools. Yet, her thoughts about the managers she worked for in places like Wal-Mart eerily capture the essence of many school administrations. She says,

...If you're made to feel unworthy enough, you may come to think that what you're paid is what you are actually worth.

It is hard to imagine any other function for workplace authoritarianism. Managers may truly believe that, without their unremitting efforts, all work would quickly grind to a halt. That is not my impression. While I encountered some cynics and plenty of people who had learned to budget their energy, I never met an actual slacker or, for that matter, a drug addict or thief. On the contrary, I was amazed and sometimes saddened by the pride people took in their jobs that rewarded them so meagerly, either in wages or recognition. Often, in fact, these people experienced management as an obstacle to getting the job done as it should be done....Left to themselves, they devised systems of cooperation and work sharing; when there was a crisis, they rose to it. In fact, it was often hard to see what the function of management was, other than to extract obeisance. Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed (New York, 2001), pp 211-212.

After 33 years of working in the Plainview-Old Bethpage schools, it’s impossible for me to see the function of many school administrative positions. Like Ehrenreich, I too have seen the potential in staff to devise systems of cooperation and work sharing. After all, that’s what doing union work is all about, and we do that extraordinarily well. How come that never dawns on the people we work for? Give us a break!

PROPOSED BUDGET 2002-03

The proposed budget for the 2002-03 school year represents an increase of almost 10% over last year. If this were not astonishing enough, the mandated costs it contains - things like staff raises, increased health insurance premiums, interest on the bonds that were sold to build the expansions to our schools etc. - alone represent a 7.64% increase over last year. Such a budget increase is estimated to increase the tax bill of the owners of the average home in Plainview-Old Bethpage by approximately $537.00. Increases of this kind make this a most unusual year.

The proposed budget adds 5.3 dedicated positions to the teaching staff, 1 each at POB Middle and Mattlin, .1 at Kennedy to be split .4 in social studies, .4 collaborative and .2 foreign language. There will also be 2.3 K-12 positions, 1 guidance counselor, 1 psychologist and .3 dedicated to foreign language and special education. The budget additionally contains money for 6.2 so-called "breakage" positions, teaching staff that are provided for in the event that enrollment patterns demand more teachers than can be projected this far in advance. If the budget is passed and the enrollment does not necessitate deployment of these positions, the dollars can be transferred to other budget categories.

While the district continues to grow in terms of teachers and students, the clerical staff has remained constant. This unhappy situation remains essentially unchanged in the proposed budget with the clerical staff slated to be increased by 2.5 positions, .5 assigned to the Director of Technology and 2 positions dedicated to the computer automation of the Old Bethpage and Parkway school libraries.

Other staffing increases in the budget include a .5 assistant principal for POB Middle School, 5 new computer aides and an upgrade of 3 present aides to the computer aide title, 1 custodian position split between Kennedy High School and Pasadena, 1 women’s golf coach and assistant coaches for all contact sports at the high school. Finally, there is increased funding for academic intervention services, another state mandate.

The officers of the PCT will be meeting with the Superintendent to question him about his budget. They will also be meeting with the Board of Education prior to the adoption of the budget. The PCT Executive Board will consider its position on the budget at its April meeting.

PROPOSED MATH PROGRAM

On Thursday, February 28, 2002, PCT President Morty Rosenfeld and Secretary Judi Alexanderson met with the teacher members of the district’s math committee and those teachers who are piloting the proposed new math program for the elementary and middle school grades. This meeting was called in response to the many concerns expressed by our membership about the manner in which the proposed Investigations program is to be introduced in the elementary grades.

A consensus rapidly emerged at this meeting that the process used to ascertain the evaluation of the Investigations program by those who piloted it was faulty, and while all piloters are interested in the Investigations program, to be successfully implemented requires a gradual process of introduction and the purchase of a companion Scott Foresman text book.

These views have been presented to Dr. Brooks who has agreed to meet with this group on March 14, 2002 to discuss their concerns. Watch the Pledge for developments.

PERSONAL DAYS: WHAT MEMBERS NEED TO KNOW

In recent weeks the PCT has had to deal with several problems related to the use of personal days provided for in our contract with the district. The following summary is offered to clear up any confusion that may exist about their use.

Each PCT/CUPCT member receives two(2) personal days each year to be used for personal business that cannot be transacted before or after the school days. If these days are not used, they are automatically saved sick days.

Personal days are applied for by completing a district form available in the main office of each school building. This form should be submitted at least 48 hours in advance of the personal day requested whenever it is possible to do so. It is understood that this is not always possible. In fact it is even possible to submit the request for a day after it has been taken, but it must be submitted immediately upon the member’s return to work from the personal day. It is not appropriate to submit the request months later.

A reason for the use of a personal day is required only if the day is taken on a Monday or Friday or the day before or after a school holiday.

If there are any questions relative to the use of personal days, members are asked to call the PCT Office.

NEW YORK STATE TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM DELEGATE MEETING

PCT delegates Cathy Carman and Christina Visbal went up to Albany for the November 11, 2001 New York State Teachers Retirement System Delegate meeting attending a full day of workshops and activities.

Prior to the conference, our delegates distributed a survey to our faculty requesting their issues and concerns regarding retirement. Cathy and Christina received numerous responses and relayed our faculty’s concerns to the Retirement Board.

During the full day of seminars, the delegates made an appointment with the Systems staff to discuss general information about the STRS member benefits as well as address our faculty’s personal concerns. All questions were answered and all responses by the Retirement Board will soon be distributed.

In addition to the meetings, the delegates also had a conference with Sheila Salenger, the newly re-elected Teacher-Member of the STRS Board to arrange for her to do a presentation on retirement for our faculty. The meeting will be scheduled for the Spring.

WHY IS T.G.I.FRIDAY’S USING ‘RAT’ CONTRACTORS TO BUILD THEIR RESTAURANTS ON L.I.?

T.G.I.Friday’s is using a contractor whose carpenters receive wages and benefits far below the area standards on Long Island. By doing this, they are undermining the wage standards in our community, making it increasingly difficult for working people to "make both ends meet."

We must STOP this behavior in its tracks. Call Tammy McWilliams at Carlson Restaurants 1-072-450-5400 and voice your opposition to this practice.

Don’t patronize T.G.I.Friday’s until they pay "area standard wages" to their contractors. Instead, you can patronize Ruby Tuesdays, Jillians, or the Olive Garden.

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