Volume XXXXI, No.8 May 5, 2004



By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld

  So many things have been happening in recent days that I have chosen to forego my usual column and comment on some of them.

  To begin, the PCT Executive Board, with two abstentions, passed the proposed 2004-05 PCT budget.  This spending plan will begin a process of change in the way our union conducts its business.  In sum, the changes are aimed at focusing the attention of the PCT on the development of its future leaders.

  From my vantage point, before it actually takes effect, the 2004-05 budget has already accomplished something very important for the future of the PCT.  I would hazzard the guess that since February when it was proposed, the budget has stimulated more discussion about the future of the PCT than has taken place in the last ten years.  Some in our ranks have addressed the issues the budget raised with great passion.  Others found out many things about the PCT that they had never known.  In all, our wrestling with the budget gave us an opportunity to improve this wonderful union that is so central to our welfare in this workplace.

  The decision behind us, we are now challenged to make the proposed changes work for the health of our organization.  I’m already planning how I will use the extra time I will now have to make our union stronger.  Visiting with you in your buildings both at SRC meetings and on other occasions, designing and helping to deliver SRC Rep training sessions, making our publications more timely.  These are some of the plans I am already making.  Some of our newer leaders have communicated their excitement about the leadership opportunities we are promoting.  I share their enthusiasm.  After almost thirty years of doing union work, I too am enthusiastic about the new possibilities before us.

  Our campaign to organize the Teacher Aides of our district into the PCT came up short by five votes.  Needless to say, those who worked on the campaign are disappointed.

  While I am too, I’m also intensely proud of the way in which we conducted our campaign.  Representational challenges are very difficult.  Getting people to embrace change especially when it includes changes in the way in which their prescription drugs are covered proved to be very difficult. 

  Despite our loss, there is much we gained from the campaign.  In researching how to combine the Aides’ benefit package with our own, we learned some things that will improve the administration of our benefit package, especially for our retirees.  Working with people who were critical of their union obliged us to question many of the things we do and to think about better ways of doing them.  We were forced to think of new ideas, to work with new people on different problems and to have to explain ourselves to others.  That all has to be good for us in the long run.

  Finally, we met some very able and dedicated leaders who became the Steering Committee of the campaign, leaders whom I was looking forward to working with in the PCT.  It was nothing short of inspiring to watch these people  stand up for themselves and learn the leadership skills a campaign of this nature requires.  I would be remiss to not single out for special affection and praise Janet Schaefer and Ellen Schwartz for their unstinting efforts.  They were simply extraordinary.  Nothing was ever too hard for them.  They believed in their cause, and they devoted themselves to it.  Even though they were saddened by their loss, their spirits are not defeated.  Since they must be Teamsters for the time being, they are already at work to make that union change.  It was a privilege to work with them.

  With all that has been going on in the PCT, we never lost sight of the District’s budget.  Adopted by the Board and up for a vote by the public on May 18, this budget maintains all existing programs.  While it is lean on equipment and supplies, it represents an over seven percent increase above last year’s budget and is a realistic spending plan given the current economic climate.  Does it reflect our organizational priorities? It certainly misses that mark to a significant degree, but it is free of the rather draconian cuts other districts around us are experiencing.  It is, therefore, worthy of our support.  I hope all PCT members are making plans to be a part of the PCT Phone Bank in support of the school budget.


   Monday, May 3 saw the teaching staff of Kennedy High School meeting with Superintendent Marty Brooks to talk about the District’s self-selection policy and academic standards.  For some fifty minutes, Dr. Brooks engaged the staff in a spirited discussion of the faculty’s perception of declining academic standards in the building and their relationship to the self-selection policy.  Dr. Brooks attended the meeting at the invitation of the Kennedy SRC working through the officers of PCT.

  This meeting followed a meeting of representatives from the PCT and PTA Council and the Board of Education.  All these meetings are part of an ongoing effort by our union to build a consensus to realistically raise the academic standards of the district and amend the self-selection policy.

  Following the Kennedy meeting, the officers of the PCT will be talking to Dr. Brooks about a format for continuing these discussions toward the end of making specific recommendations for change.


   Buildings should be making plans to hold their SRC elections for next year’s representatives.  All members  are eligible to run for SRC, including members of the Clerical Unit.

   The highest vote-getter in each SRC election will be the Head SRC Rep.  The Head rep will function as the principal spokesperson for the building and will be responsible for organizing all SRC and committee meetings in the building.  Head reps will additionally meet with the officers at least twice a month and will be expected to take part in a variety of training opportunities designed to give them the tools they need to be effective advocates.  Head Reps will receive a stipend of $2000.  The stipend for regular SRC Reps is $500.

   All SRC Reps are expected to attend the monthly meeting of the PCT Executive Board which usually takes place from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM on the first or second Tuesday of each month school is in session. The calendar of meetings will be available to SRC Reps before the start of the next school year.


   Teacher members of the PCT contemplating retirement at the end of this school year are reminded of the contractual deadline for ensuring payment by the District of the one day’s pay for every three days of accumulated leave up to a maximum of half of a year’s salary.  While the date in the contract  is May 15, that date falls on a Saturday.  Thus, the date by which letters of resignation should reach the District by the close of business is Friday, May 14, 2004.

   Letters of resignation should be sent to the Superintendent of Schools and should contain the following:

   I hereby resign my position as a ______ for purposes of retirement effective June 30, 2004.


   In an effort to provide the opportunity for the broadest participation at the annual PCT Party to honor retirees, our union has already set October 27, 2004 at the North Ritz Club in Syosset as the date and place for next fall’s bash.  Further details will follow in September, but, for now, save the date.


    A PCT committee of active and retired members has begun the work of planning an appropriate memorial for Jackie Pekar, a legendary kindergarten teacher and staunch  union activist who died in the fall. 

   While a number of options for an appropriate tribute have been advanced, no decisions have been made.  The committee hopes to have a plan in place for the fall.  Watch the Pledge for news of the committee’s activities.


   It is time for all teachers interested in becoming mentors for teachers both new to POB and new to teaching for 2004-2005 to submit their names in writing to the PCT by May 21, 2004.  According to the 2003-2004 PCT agreement with the District, mentors and interns: 1) have common prep and lunch and 2) have access to substitute coverages 10x per year each.  Mentors in addition: 1) meet with the principal regularly 2) attend a 6 hour training in August and on-going training occasionally during the year  3) receive a stipend ($3000 for 2003-04).  The goal of the mentor-intern program is to promote a smooth first year for new teachers so that not only will they remain in POB but also so that they will feel part of the school family as soon as possible.


   Members of the District’s Music Department have held a series of  recent meetings under the auspices of the PCT to address a number of  issues, most not of their creation, that have affected the smooth running of their department A committee of department members has been formed to work with their supervisor to resolve those issues.


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