F.U.S.E. News & Updates April 28, 2014

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F.U.S.E. News & Updates April 28, 2014

• The Third Annual Food Drive is scheduled for May 10. VP Billy Coleman is again organizing the event which provides food and other household necessities to New Rochelle food pantries.

• The second annual “Race for Solidarity” is also scheduled for May 10. Last year over 28 FUSE members participated in the 5K race with over 350 other runners from NYSUT locals in the Westchester/Rockland region. Several FUSE members won medals, including Tim Kuklis from NRHS who won the First Place medal for fastest time. Members interested in running the race this year should contact me at the FUSE office by the end of the week!

FUSE Party

It’s only three weeks away! The annual Fuse Party is on May 15 at Beckwith Pointe. All FUSE members are welcome to this annual opportunity to relax with friends and see colleagues from around the district. The event – which includes music, food and drink -- begins at 4:00. See you there!

FUSE Elections

As most members are by now aware, this is an election year for the officers of our union. Members wishing to become candidates for any of the officer’s position had to submit a petition, signed by 25 members of the union by Friday, April 22.

As of Friday, there was only one petition submitted for each of the following positions:

President (Martin Daly from IEYMS), Executive Vice-President (Sandy Annunziata from NRHS), Vice- President for Pedagogic Staff (Aisha Cook from Columbus School), Secretary (Matthew Reid from Ward School) and Treasurer (Ann Marie Manganiello from Trinity School).

Since there is only one candidate for each of these positions, the members who have submitted their petitions are automatically reelected and will serve a three year term of office beginning June 1, 2014 through May 331, 2017.

Two members submitted petitions for the position of Vice-President for School Related Professionals: incumbent Vice –President Billy Coleman from IEYMS is being challenged by Mike Tozzo from Barnard School.

As a result, the election for this office will be held on Thursday, May 22 by secret ballot in each of the schools/worksites. In keeping with changes enacted to our Constitution a few years ago, the VP/School Related Professionals is elected solely by the members of the SRP chapter.

The successful candidate will also serve a three year term beginning June 1, 2014 and ending on May 31, 2017.

School Budget News

The Board of Education, at its April 22 meeting, approved the proposed 2014-2015 budget which will be presented to the voters of New Rochelle on May 20. The budget passed the Board by an 8-1 vote, with Board member Jeffrey Hastie being the only “no” vote to the spending plan.

Mr. Hastie attributed his “no” vote to the district’s spending plan to unanswered questions he has about issues regarding oversight and supervision regarding spending on the operations side of the budget, particularly as it applies to costs associated with maintenance, supplies, inventory and vendors’ contracts. Interestingly, Board member Rachel Relkin said some of those same issues gave her “reservations” about the budget, but were not enough to cause her to vote against the overall plan which she believes is sound and in the best interests of our schools and students.

The budget, which reflects the still tentative, but clearly improving trends in the economy, is the first budget in recent years that does not call for the elimination of any positions or the layoffs of any staff members. In fact, as a result of the restoration of some state aid monies, the Board has approved the addition of several positions needed to “respond to program needs and insure favorable class sizes.” Among positions being added are middle school art and music teachers, a high school math position and secondary Foreign Language (Spanish) teachers.

This budget, while still best characterized as a “maintenance budget” in that it does not fully restore positions lost in the past years or expand to include any new programs, is nonetheless a “good news” budget. As Interim Superintendent Korostoff said in his “Budget Message” to the community, “While our District has not yet turned the corner in difficult financial times, we do believe that the pendulum is poised to begin an upward movement.”

The proposed budget provides for favorable class sizes; offers a full range of educational programs; maintains all current staff positions and addresses safety and security of students and staff. The FUSE will be urging all of our members and their families who live in New Rochelle to support the proposed budget on May 20.

2014-15 Proposed Budget By the Numbers
Projected Tax Rate Increase: 2.16% (This is the lowest increase since 1999)

Other Budget Vital Statistics: 

Proposed Budget: $245,457,331
Budget-to-Budget Increase over '13-14 - 2.5%
Tax levy increase: 1.41% which complies with the state mandated Tax Levy Increase Limit

School Board Election

On May 20 the New Rochelle community will be asked to approve the 2014-2015 school budget and will also elect two members of the Board of Education for five year terms. The deadline for candidates to file a petition to run for the Board is April 30.

Long time Board member Deidre Polow has announced that she will not seek re-election to the Board.

As of today, there are three candidates vying for the two slots on the Board. Incumbent Board member Jeffrey Hastie announced last month that he will be seeking a second term on the Board. In addition, Dr. Sal Fernandes, a parent at the Ward School as well as an educator and principal in New York City, and Rick Monzon, an active member of the Trinity PTA, New Rochelle SEPTA and president of the Miracle League of Westchester (a baseball league for special needs children) have announced that they will also be running for the Board.

I couldn’t leave this article on the Board of Education elections without expressing sincere thanks to Dee Polow for her years of service on the Board.

Mrs. Polow’s presence on the Board will be greatly missed – she is tireless advocate for our students and for the public schools. As a PTA member, PTA president, PTA Council member and Board of Education member, she has spent well over 30 years working to make sure our school district offered this city’s children a rigorous, well-rounded education. She is knowledgeable, articulate and passionate about the power of public schools – particularly the public schools of New Rochelle – to change lives and give every student the tools she/he will need to make a positive contribution to the community at large. Collegiality, respect and good humor are the hallmarks of her tenure on the Board, and her frequent and heartfelt words of praise and appreciation for the work of the teachers, administrators and staff will always be remembered.

Join NYSUT and AFT to Demand an End to "Gag Orders" on Educators!

A message from the American Federation of Teachers:

Right now the AFT's chief of staff and one of our researchers are in London working to change the culture of high-stakes standardized testing here in America.

They're attending the annual shareholders meeting of Pearson Education, the largest for-profit education, testing and book publishing company in the world, demanding that the company remove contractual "gag orders" that prevent educators from talking about Pearson's tests, and asking Pearson to sit down with parents, teachers, principals and students to address legitimate concerns about these tests.

Tell Pearson's board of directors to lift the gag orders and work with stakeholders to fix their broken tests.
In New York, teachers and principals who administered Pearson's Common Core-related assessments have raised red flags about test content that isn't age-appropriate and doesn't align with student learning. But, because of a gag order written into the contract, educators are forbidden from discussing the content or quality of the tests--they can't even tell parents what's on the test their children are taking.

There are many other examples like this across the country.

The gag orders don't help students learn or help schools improve--their only obvious purpose is to protect the corporation's interests. That's not right. Pearson's secretive tests have huge consequences for students and their families, teachers, schools and communities. The tests need to assess what students have learned--they need to be accurate, properly aligned and fair. That's why transparency is so important and this gag order is so wrong.

Our children are not test scores, and our teachers are not algorithms. We need to stop this testing fixation, change the culture of high-stakes testing and hold the corporations that are profiting from these tests accountable. The Pearson shareholders meeting is a perfect time to demand that Pearson be accountable to our schools and communities. Pearson's gag order is not in the best interests of children, teachers or schools.
Accountability goes both ways. Stand with us to tell Pearson and the company's board of directors to drop the gag order and work with stakeholders to make the tests transparent and fair.

Educators know what our children need in the classroom. Their voices should be respected by the companies paid by public dollars to create and score tests, not silenced by gag orders.

Go to http://petitions.moveon.org/aft/sign/pearson-stop-gagging?source=nysut and sign the petition today!

Head north to "Picket in the Pines" and Defend Public Education!

Now's your chance to put the "public" back in "public education" and tell hedge-funders and their political cronies that they can't privatize our schools. Sign up to “picket in the pines” on May 4, when Education Reform Now, a union-bashing "reform" group, convenes in Lake Placid. The hedge-funders' deep-pocket PAC -- Democrats for Education Reform -- also will hobnob at the $1,000-a-head "Camp Philos." Sign up now and please spread the word via Facebook and Twitter! Go to NYSUT.org for more information.

Grassroots Activism Delivers a Knockout Blow to inBloom

NYSUT members and thousands of parents successfully pressured New York state to cancel its contract with inBloom -- and this week, in a major development for the safeguarding of student data, inBloom announced it was ceasing operations. Without New York, inBloom was hemorrhaging red ink. (But it wasn't about the money, was it?)
Yes, together we can BE the change we seek! Again, for more information on this win for education and privacy rights, go to NYSUT.org.

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