Volume XXXV, No. 18 June 18, 1997





By Morty Rosenfeld


Anyone who thought about the Kindergarten Center at the beginning of the year knew that there would be problems surrounding its opening. Conceived in the late spring before its opening in September, its start was bound to be problematical. There simply wasn't enough time to think the project through, identify the problems and fashion solutions.

The burden of getting the Kindergarten Center program going fell, as it usually does in schools, on the enormously talented staff whose skill and good will are largely responsible for the students receiving an excellent year - a year in which they and their parents were largely unaware of the difficult circumstances under which their teachers were working. The staff brought order from chaos and turned loving faces to the children even at times that their guts were in knots owing to an administration that was often working at cross-purposes and an environment that had not been prepared for them to do their jobs.

The problems of supplies and furnishings have now been resolved. The time is at hand to assess the year passed and learn from the difficulties the staff experienced lest they be repeated next year.

Surely, if there was one central flaw in the design of the Kindergarten Center it was in attempting to establish it as an independent school, even though it is not separated by any architectural feature from the Stratford Road program housed in the same building. Good schools operate with cooperation, not turf wars. Good schools talk about "we" and "us" and not "them." Yet, so many of the difficulties at the Kindergarten Center have a split identity at their core. Two site-based decision making teams, two principals, two staffs, two carefully guarded entrances, two PTAS, but only one building that must be used by all its inhabitants. The present structure invites division, undermines team work and promotes a compartmentalized view of education rather than a unified vision. It must be changed. There must be a unified school that contains a kindergarten center but which is everybody's school, every student's, every teacher's, every parent's, every custodian's, one school with one purpose, with everyone working together to provide the best possible education.

What must be done? We must immediately take steps to plan for the coordination of the two programs in the Stratford Road building. An administrative structure should be developed that while providing for the supervision of the large kindergarten population in the building is, nevertheless, integrated in a unified administrative building team. Additionally, the staffs of both units must be brought together to develop a shared vision for the school rather than the foolishness that currently exists where kindergarten is conceptualized as essentially distinct from the remainder of the elementary program. When each elementary school contained kindergarten classes, this was not the case. Why should it be now?



At the recent awards assembly at Kennedy High School, PCT President Morty Rosenfeld presented Robert Kaufman with the first PCT Paul Rubin Memorial Scholarship Award. This $2000 scholarship is presented by our union to a graduating senior whose experiences and activities reflect a concern for the betterment of others. The goal of the scholarship is to encourage young people to follow in the steps of former PCT President Paul Rubin by living lives of social conscience.

This year's recipient, Robert Kaufman, is a stellar example of what the Paul Rubin Scholarship Committee was looking for. For several years Robert has devoted many after-school hours and summers to working with senior citizens, both members of our community and residents of the local nursing home. Our committee was moved by Robert's sensitive writing of his experiences working with the elderly and his compassion for them. Most of all, they were impressed by his joy in doing for others and the many lessons in life he learned from them.



Bradley Epstein, son of Mattlin teacher Toby Epstein and former Board member Gary Epstein, has been named one of this year's winners of the NEA/New York Scholarship. This award of $500 per year for up to four years of undergraduate study is given by our state organization to qualifying children of our membership. The award is granted for outstanding scholarship. Congratulations to Bradley and the Epstein family. The award was presented by NEA/NY PAC Committee Chair Judi Alexanderson at the Kennedy Awards Assembly.




A final reminder to members of the Teacher and Clerical Units of the PCT that Friday, June 20, 1997 is the last day for submitting letters of resignation to qualify for the recently negotiated retirement incentive.

Members who are taking the incentive are asked to send a copy of their resignation letters to the PCT Office. Those who were not at the PCT Retirement Workshop on Friday, June 13th and who wish the materials that were distributed (including a form resignation letter) should also contact the Office immediately.

Members who are going to retire and who have some sick days that they are unable to cash in are asked to write a letter to the Superintendent donating up to 5 days to the PCT Sick Leave Bank.



For the past two years members of Mattlin and POB Middle Schools have been working on plans for the introduction of interdisciplinary teaming. Teaming committees at each building have been meeting and working on the problems of implementation. Last year with the assistance of PCT Officers Judi Alexanderson and Vicki Ahlsen an agreement for piloting teaming this year was worked out. Unfortunately, when September came the pilot could not go ahead at POB Middle.

This year our building committees continued their work to plan for next year's full implementation of interdisciplinary teaming. Recently, SRC Reps from both buildings, PCT Officers Morty Rosenfeld, Judi Alexanderson and Vicki Ahlsen met to discuss the Superintendent's call for a meeting to discuss the writing of a memorandum of understanding to cover the terms and conditions under which teachers would provide service once teaming for all students begins in September. At this meeting a careful assessment was made of the PCT's needs in such a document and a list of necessary items was drawn up. These items were shared by SRCs with their respective staffs.

To date the officers have had one meeting with Central Office to discuss the drafting of a memorandum. We have presented the ideas that have come from the building committees and SRCs. An attempt is being made to conclude these discussions prior to the end of the school year. When a satisfactory document has been written, a joint meeting of the teachers of both middle schools will be held for the purpose of ratifying a memorandum of understanding.




For the past several months, the PCT has had a presence on the Internet. Updated monthly, the PCT web page is our union's latest effort to broadcast our message to the community. In the short time it has been up, we have averaged 150 visits each month and some very positive feedback from residents of the school district.

If we are to build on the early success of this project, we must keep the web page interesting and up to date. Visitors must have a sense that each visit will bring them some new items of interest. We need a group of members to meet regularly to write materials, brainstorm new ideas and generally oversee the development of our web site. If there are members who would actually like to learn to construct the page, that would be even better.

If you would like to contribute to this exciting new project in the fall, please drop a note to the PCT Office.




This year the PCT has been investigating the possibilities of starting a child care center for its members. In our last contract, we gained a commitment from the Board of Education for some rent-free space for this endeavor.

It has taken quite a few months to research all that is involved with such a venture. Last week, having learned what we believe we needed to learn, we called a meeting of members who had expressed an interest in placing children in our child care facility which would be housed in the Jamaica Avenue building. The response to our call was very poor, so much so that we do not at this time have enough people willing to commit to make a child care center economically feasible.

If we were to act quickly, it is still possible to have a center in place for September. In case you missed our survey and would be interested in using a PCT run child care center, please call the PCT Office. Someone from our Child Care Committee will get back to you quickly.




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