THE PCT PLEDGE IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF
THE PLAINVIEW-OLD BETHPAGE CONGRESS OF TEACHERS
VOL. XXXXII, NO. 1, SEPT. 7, 2004
THE YEAR AHEAD
By PCT President Morty RosenfeldThe summer has been a busy one for me, so that it seems a little odd to pause to look forward to a year that I already feel myself to be in the middle of. This figures to be an interesting year for our union, a year filled with challenges.
Now that we have a full-time president, it is my responsibility to redesign the job so as to significantly improve the capacity of our union.This summer, some of the officers and I have mapped out an ambitious training program for our SRC reps, with an additional training component for the new position of Head SRC Rep. Some of that training began the week of August 23 when twenty-five SRC Reps gave up hours of precious vacation time to prepare themselves to better serve our members. They will be putting in an additional four to five hours a month throughout the school year. I promised you last spring that we would undertake a comprehensive program to train the next generation of PCT leaders. Iím proud to tell you that program is already underway.
This year, we will clearly be working on the Board of Educationís goal of looking at our middle school program, in part trying to better understand why despite our extraordinary efforts, the test scores of our middle school students, like those of many middle schools, fall off from elementary school levels. Dr. Brooks and I have been discussing the structure of the committee which will undertake this work, and I believe we will have the structure of a committee in place by the first weeks of school.
This will also be a year in which we take a serious look at the condition of the districtís academic standards. The Superintendent of Schools, the President of PTA Council and I have agreed to a committee of two (2) members from each group to begin work immediately to explore finding consensus on how we grapple with this politically sensitive subject. If we go about this work correctly, we should soon have a much larger committee with representation across the grades. You and I have been trying to get the district to examine our concerns for the districtís academic standards. It looks like this will be the year when we finally face that challenge.
This will be a bust year for us politically. From day one of the new school year, we will be working to support our friend Assemblyman David Sidikman in the Democratic Primary (See article on campaign.). At the first meeting of the PCT Executive Board, the officers will recommend the endorsement of the Kerry/Edwards ticket in the Presidential election. They will additionally call for a fund-raising drive for the National Education Association Fund for Children and Education, the political action fund of our national union that supports pro-education candidates for federal office. Our officers will make this recommendation in part on the basis of the growing attack on public education by the radical right in the current administration and Congress. There is, in their view, an absolutely clear agenda to discredit and destroy the public schools and then privatize education in the United States. More about this campaign soon.
There is, too, the need to negotiate a new contract for next year. I donít know at this point if the Board of Education will be interested in another rollover, although it seems to me that the political and economic climate suggests that it would be a good idea to do so. I do know that we have already begun to prepare for full-scale negotiations if that should prove necessary.
In these and the many other union endeavors we will undertake, I look forward to working with you to further the agenda of our organization. I am especially anxious for the opportunity to see you more often than my schedule has permitted in the past. I hope this will be a professionally rewarding year for you and that you will continue to find opportunities and ways to contribute to the solidarity of the PCT.
We need your help! As you may know, Plainview-Old Bethpage Assemblyman David Sidikman is being challenged in the Democratic primary on September 14, 2004.
David Sidikman has been a wonderful friend to the PCT for many years. We rely on him for information on developments in Albany. We also count on him to protect our school aid from those in Albany who think we on Long Island have too much money. As recently as a few weeks ago, David was able to get Albany to restore $140,000 that we had been scheduled to lose. Over the last two years, he has gotten us over $650,000 in additional school aid which has enabled us to keep all of our members employed and the districtís academic program intact. Many districts around us have not been that fortunate.
From September 7 through September 14 the PCT will be conducting a phone bank from the PCT Office in support of David Sidikman. We need your help with this effort. SRC Reps are signing members up for specific time slots. Please see your rep today and contribute to this important union work.
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 Arthur Jonasí office before September 10, 2004. 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.
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, 2004. The next contractual deadline for changes is January 15, 2005.
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 2005 tax year, contributions may be increased to $14,000 per year. The contribution limit will increase by $1000 each year through 2006.FLEX BENEFITS CHANGES
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 oneís flexible medical spending account
FULBRIGHT MEMORIAL FUND TEACHER PROGRAM
The Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program is accepting new applications for the 2005 program. The goal of the fellowship offered by the fund is to foster a sustained partnership between the United States and Japan and continue to expand the educational exposure of American educators and their students to the people and culture of Japan.
Now in its 9th year of existence, FMF sends 600 educators annually to Japan to take part in an educational and cultural study visit.
The deadline for the 2005 FMF competition is December 10, 2004. Those interested may apply directly via the online application found on the FMF website at www.iie.org/fmf. To request more information, additional materials, or if you have any questions please contact FMF at 1-888-527-2636 or
At the close of last school year, twenty-four (24) teacher members applied to be mentors to new hires this year. The 2004-05 school year is the first year that an internship is mandated by state regulation for certain new hires to school districts who hold an Initial Teaching Certificate.
For the 2004-05 year, only two (2) of our districtís new hires are mandated by state regulation to participate in a mentor/intern program.
Pursuant to our agreement with the district which was renewed for one (1) year this summer, the PCT has sent the list of volunteers to the Superintendent of Schools who gets to pick the mentors from this list.
ATTENTION NEW STAFF
A special meeting will be held for all new teachers and educational support professionals at the PCT Office on Monday, September 20, 2004 at 4:00 P.M. At this meeting, officers of our union will explain the many benefits of membership in our organization. The staff of the Welfare Fund will also be present to help new hires put their benefit packages in place. New staff are reminded to bring the envelope of forms sent to you on the first day of the new school year.
ANNUAL PCT PARTY
On Wednesday, October 27, 2004 the PCT will hold its annual party to welcome its newest members and to honor those who retired during the 2003-04 school year. This yearís party will be held at the North Ritz Club on Jericho Turnpike in Syosset (just west of South Oyster Bay Road). Speeches and ceremonies will be kept to an absolute minimum, while beer, wine, soft drinks and finger foods and music will be maximized from 4:00 to 7:00 P.M. There are no school meetings or staff development on this date, so it should be easy for every member to attend. Honored retirees and new members will be our guests. Because of a healthy PCT subsidy, the charge to all other members will be a very low $15.
Our annual party is one of the few opportunities we have for all of us to get together during the year. The officers of the PCT are looking forward to this being the best attended party yet.IN MEMORIAM
Sadly, we learned this summer of the very untimely death of Richard Galletti, a science teacher at Kennedy High School who passed away suddenly at the age of 37. An inspired teacher and a committed member of the PCT, Rich was a soft-spoken, gentle person who always tried hard to make the world a better place for the people in his life. His committed work with the children of this community will be missed.
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