VOL. XXXXII, NO. 7  JANUARY 18, 2005


          A BUSY TIME

By PCT President Morty Rosenfeld


  As you have learned from your SRC Reps, the PCT received a proposal for a modified extension (roll-over) to our contracts.  Although unacceptable in its current form, we have been working informally to try to find a way to be able to agree to a contract extension.

   It seems to me and to the other officers that a straight forward extension of the contract would benefit both labor and management.  Neither side has any life or death contractual issues to resolve, and the political and economic times are inauspicious for a full scale negotiations.  Looming on the horizon is another difficult school budget cycle that will yield significant tax increases at a time when many in the community are still a bit shocked by the increases they recently received on their tax bills.  Then, too, there are so many other things that we are working on.  There are Middle School issues to be resolved, curriculum mapping work underway and some very promising activities aimed at sharpening the academic standards of our district, all of which are at least in part prospering from the calmer labor/management climate which has been significantly improved by the last two contract extensions.  In this sort of environment, the sooner the contract is done the better.

   However, we must prepare for a full negotiations if attempts at an extension fail.  That is why you have received a Demand Questionnaire on which you are invited to express your ideas for what should be in a new contract.  I urge you to think seriously about this issue and return your completed questionnaire to the PCT Office by January 21.  The ideas of all of our members will be put together into a package of demands that will be debated and discussed by the PCT Executive Board on February 8.   The Teacher Unit of the PCT will meet for final ratification of our demands on March 2 at the Stratford Road school at 4:00 PM , while the Clerical Unit will hold its General Membership Meeting on March 3 at 4:00 PM in the Choral Room of the POB Middle School .  Our Substitute Teacher Unit will meet on Thursday, February 10, at 4:00 PM in the Library of Kennedy High School.  Please be sure to attend your membership meeting



   By the time this edition of the Pledge reaches the buildings, the five sub-committees of the Academic Standards Committee will have begun to meet.  What is being attempted by these teacher, administrator and parent volunteers is the building of a consensus of where our district is academically and where we wish it to be.  The work of these sub-committees will ultimately yield recommendations to the Board of Education.  Should the Board adopt them, they may well have a profound impact on the future of the district.

   Because the work of these sub-committees is so important, the following is a list of PCT representatives with whom you may wish to share your ideas about the subject of academic standards.


            Lina Seaton                   Charlie Marfoglio

            Marty Buchman            Karey Yanch

            Sue Ferrara



            Genevieve Bruder         Carole Green

            Janet Rose                    Michele Harding

            Tracey Idone                Joe Morello

            Arlene Friedman



            Jack Canfora                Bess Eliav

            Jessica Baker                Kevin Dugan

            Paula Engel                   Christine Gorney



            Judi Rosenthal               Julianne Tanacredi

            Elaine Stelzer                Harriet Greenspan

            Margaret Brindley         Linda Lyons



            Jane Weinkrantz            Joanna Hayward

            Deena Stevens              Judi Montana

            Gloria Rothenberg         Joanne Spindler



   The PCT Special Education Committee has held a series of meetings to prepare for a meeting with Deputy Superintendent Pat Kriss and Pupil Personnel Director Peg Dougherty to discuss departmental issues prior to the finalization of the District’s 2005-06 budget, a budget that will undoubtedly be another tight one in a series of tight budgets.  Among the issues the committee will explore with the administration is the need for clearly defined criteria for each special education student within the continuum of services.  Watch the Pledge for news of the committee’s work.



   Next year is one of those years when it is difficult to build a school calendar because holidays fall where they do, thereby making it difficult to build in some snow days.  Responding to a request from the District to consider coming in before Labor Day (Our contract says that school will begin after Labor Day.), the Officers of the PCT placed the issue before the PCT Executive Board at their meeting of January 11.  The Board tabled the discussion, wishing to be able to take the issue back to their buildings.   PCT President Morty Rosenfeld has asked SRC Reps to report their findings as quickly as possible as the District is anxious to finalize a calendar.

   The only viable choices appear to be coming in before Labor Day, designating the last couple of days of the spring break as snow days (always dangerous to those with long range vacation plans) or extending the school year by two days.



   At the January meeting of the PCT Executive Board, the subject of curriculum mapping came up under the agenda topic of New Business.  This is the portion of the Board’s monthly agenda where SRC Reps bring issues of concern to their buildings to the floor.

   Concerns were expressed about the currently voluntary efforts of some PCT members to map the District’s curriculum in the hope of identifying areas of overlap and perhaps even some omissions.  The concerns came primarily from some of the elementary schools centered around their anxiety that this work might ultimately encroach upon their preparation time and not be voluntary.  Also expressed was the thought that much of the elementary school curriculum is already mapped by virtue of the introduction of new programs like the recently introduced math program.

   PCT President Morty Rosenfeld addressed these concerns by observing that the District has provided release time for this work and has additionally set aside time on the half-day for it.  He assured the elementary reps that the PCT had worked too hard to equalize elementary prep time to carelessly give it away.  “If and when the administration wants to go District-wide with this effort, we will sit down with them and carefully  negotiate the working conditions.”



   Effective January 1, the co-payments for the Empire prescription benefit have increased.  Brand name pharmaceuticals will now be $30.  Perhaps even more disturbing to our membership, especially members of our Retiree Unit, is the fact that some drugs are no longer in the plan’s formulary and therefore carry a co-payment of $60. 

  Hard to believe though it may be for some of our members, the PCT unfortunately has nothing to do with these increases.  The entire Empire Plan is determined through negotiations between the State of New York and the union representing the employees of the state.  Albany then turns around and says to municipalities and school districts that they can either participate in the plan or not for what it costs.  The District, therefore, has no say in the construction of the plan.

   These increases are part of the unchecked escalation in the cost of health care in the United States , an escalation that neither political party seems to want to address seriously.  The PCT has for many years worked politically to achieve a single-payer medical insurance system that would substantially reduce costs and make coverage available to everyone.  Opponents of such a plan like the one in Canada claim that it ultimately is a rationing of health care.  To the Empire Subscriber who has been retired for twenty years or more and who is taking a medicine now requiring a $60 co-pay - such a person may well experience the rationing that is built into the current system in which some people have health care and others don’t.



  The PCT Web Page has had its best year ever, In 2004, 9,492 people visited our web site and read 19,693 pages of material. 

   This year also marked the first time our web site was used in the training of our SRC Representatives.  SRC Reps who were unable to attend the presentation on contract interpretation and grievance were able to go to a pass-worded section of the web site and listen to a narrated presentation on the topic, complete with access to relevant sections of the contract and other pertinent documents.  Other training experiments using our web site are planned for the future.

   Members are reminded that one of the more recent additions to the web site is the ability to download and print dental and excess major medical forms.  




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