Volume XXXX, No. 1 September 6, 2002


By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

    This was as good a beginning of a new school year as I can remember. For the second year in a row, we had a keynote speaker who had something compelling to say that was free of the usual educationist cant. Then, too, there was the kind, congratulatory words of the Board President Jon Mosenson who warmly reminded us of the outstanding work that we do with the children of Plainview-Old Bethpage. While we know we do a great job, it was gratifying to hear our Board President recite with obvious pride the litany of our accomplishments. Also, I suspect that you were touched, as I was, by Dr. Brooksí personal narrative of his experiences with a teacher who started him down the road of overcoming a speech handicap, even though he initially perceived her to be cold and insensitive. After all, she wanted him to do something he didnít want to do, was convinced he couldnít do.

    Dr. Brooksí talk left me wondering about how his story might play out in contemporary times in Plainview-Old Bethpage or in most other Long Island school districts. I strongly suspect the outcome might well be different.

    In his narrative, Dr. Brooksí parents didnít come to school the next day demanding that their child be taken out of the "heartless" speech teacherís class. They didnít threaten multiple law suits if the teacher was not ordered to excuse their son from the public speaking assignment. They didnít call the other parents in their sonís class to attempt to find other examples of the teacherís heartless behavior. Then, too, no administrator admonished the speech teacher for her lack of sensitivity to the plight of a speech handicapped student.

    Instead, things happened as they always should. No one, except Dr. Brooks, second- guessed or admonished the teacher. No one superceded her judgement as to how this speech impaired boy should be handled. Everyone seems to have presumed professional competence and good will on her part. The result was also as it should be. A frightened boy learned that he could do something that he never imagined he could do. He was encouraged to find the will to overcome his fears and ultimately his handicap so that he could speak to us with eloquence.


    September 10, 2002 is Primary Day in New York State. The PCT Executive Board has endorsed Carl McCall in the Democratic primary. Among their reasons for doing so was McCallís long history of friendship with unionists, and especially public employee unions.

    Long before it became fashionable for state politicians to support a permanent cost of living allowance for the retirees of the stateís pensions systems, Carl McCall was speaking out about the responsibility of the state to the public servants who had served it faithfully. Using his position as Comptroller of the State of New York and thereby the lone trustee of the Employees Pension Fund, McCall proposed legislation to provide permanent cost of living allowances to retirees. His courage in doing so was rare among the stateís politicians. The Executive Board believes that Carl McCall is a rarely qualified candidate for Governor who has a history of being on our side.


        PCT members are reminded that if they completed sufficient course work over the summer to advance a lane or more on the salary schedule, they need to inform Dr. Greenbergís office before September 10, 2002. So long as this notification is made, payment on the new lane is assured as soon as the official university transcript is received by the district.


    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 Wednesday, October 30, 2002. The cost to members of the PCT will be $10. Those who retired in June and new members will be the guests of the PCT.

    SRC reps will begin their collections the week of September 9. Checks should be made out to PCT.


    The Trustees of the Welfare Fund have announced an improvement in the fundís dental insurance coverage. Effective September 1, 2002, the yearly maximum benefit will be increased from $1700 to $1900. All other aspects of the dental insurance program remain unchanged.


    The PCT office has had a number of inquiries concerning the reason members have been prevented from signing up for staff development classes that begin more than fifteen minutes beyond the close of their schoolís day.

    The contract between the district and the PCT obligates teacher members to participate in eighteen hours of staff development each year.

    In the very contentious negotiations that led to the inclusion of the staff development clause in our contract, great care and energy was taken by our negotiators to avoid what in labor circles is called "dead time," that is time that an employee spends waiting to perform the duties of her position. Under our contract, therefore, the district may not schedule a staff development program at 4:00 p.m. and mandate attendance by teachers whose regular school day ends at 2:30 p.m. At most, there can be fifteen minutes between the end of a schoolís day and the start of staff development for the faculty of that school.

    Thus, teachers who either on-line or in writing attempted to sign up for courses that begin more than fifteen (15) minutes beyond the end of their school day were denied. If the district had done otherwise, they would have violated our contract.


    Shortly, members will receive a Contract Survey Form from PCT Secretary and Grievance Chair Judi Alexanderson. This form is one of the ways that the PCT seeks to determine if there are any violations of our contract with the district. A contract that isnít enforced isnít worth very much.

    When you receive your survey form, please take the time to fill it out carefully. When you have completed your contract survey, please return it promptly to the PCT Office or your building reps.


    PCT members are advised that the open enrollment period (the period during which a memberís dental or excess major medical coverage may be changed) is January 3 through January 31, 2003. Forms to effect coverage changes will be distributed in November.


    The Welfare Fundís Optical Benefits are $125 every two years for each family member. Members may go to the optician of their choice, or they can receive a voucher good at General Vision Services stores which will give them supplies and services values at over $300.

    The new two year benefit period began September 1, 2002 and will end August 31, 2004.


    In recent times, some of the administrators in our district have raised with the officers of the PCT the possibility of teachers using the internet to post information for parents about the progress of their children.

    The officers are additionally aware that some teachers have devised their own methods for making data electronically available to parents.

    Up until now, the PCT has resisted working with the district on electronic communication with parents. However, the fact that numbers of our members are independently using these methods of communicating with parents suggest that our position on the issue needs to be reconsidered.

    The officers intend to begin a discussion with the members of the PCT Executive Board toward the end of developing a policy for our union. Members are encouraged to talk with their SRC Reps to express their thoughts on the issue.


    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, 2002. The next contractual deadline for changes is January 15, 2003.

    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 2003 tax year, contributions may be increased to $12,000 per year. The contribution limit will increase by $1000 each year through 2006.

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