Spring 2012 Newsletter  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In Memoriam

 

 

What Do Teachers Make?

 

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued,
"What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in
life was to become a teacher?"
To stress his point he said to another guest; "You were a teacher,
Jim. Be honest. What did you make?"

Jim, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied,
"You want to know what I make? (He paused for a second, then
began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ student feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor winner.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make
them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental. You want to
know what I make?"

I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn't
everything.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math.
They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they
need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, One Nation Under God, because
we live in the United States of America.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they
were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.

Jim paused and then continued.
"Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me
knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay
no attention because they are ignorant....
You want to know what I make?
I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
What do you make Mr. CEO?"


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters to the Editor

 

 

AFT Needs Retiree Volunteers TO GO TO WISCONSIN!

May 14, 2012

Organized labor has drawn a line in the sand in it's decision to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin. The entire nation, especially labor's opponents and detractors will be watching this battle very closely, our credibility and our rights to organize and collectively bargain are on the line. If the labor backed candidate Tom Barrett (D) can defeat Walker in this June 5, 2012 special election our base will be energized for the important November races. However, if we lose, we can expect even harsher and more severe attacks on labor and public employees, now and in the future.
 
What can you do? Reach out to your retired members, ask them to volunteer to go out to Wisconsin from May 24th until June 6, 2012. Their transportation costs, housing and meal expenses will be paid for by AFT, there will be no compensation other than the moral satisfaction of knowing that they helped to preserve the rights they fought so hard and long to create during their active union years. This is a historic moment, an event that no one who volunteers will ever forget.
 
Please send this email to your list of retirees, anyone interested in volunteering should contact me directly at the Suffolk Regional Office. I need your help to spread the word.
 
In solidarity

Vincent Lyons
Suffolk Regional Staff Director
New York State United Teachers
150 Vanderbilt Motor Parkway
Suite 306
Hauppauge, NY 11788-5180
Phone (631) 273-8822
Fax (631) 273-6186
e-mail - vlyons@nysutmail.org

Message from BTA President

May 13, 2012

Dear Retirees,

First of all, thank you for your support at the BOE meetings. With your help, we were able to get a contract that lasts through 2015. Though the contract is a sign of the economic times everywhere, we are able to put that chapter behind us.

On Tuesday, May 15th, our school district is facing an extremely important election. The BTA has voted to support Rob Powell, Chris Picini and Lisa Grossman for BOE trustees. We are also asking that you vote for the proposed budget as well.

There was a recent mailing distributed to some community members that claim that a vote for this slate would go against the interests of the BTA. First, any mailing with no return address and no name attached should be seen for what it is--a sad, last minute attempt to mislead our members. Second, representatives from each building in the district made the decision to endorse Powell, Picini and Grossman because we understand they represent a real shift back to normalcy for the district.

The decision to endorse Powell, Picini and Grossman was based on the goal of changing the BOE majority. Many of the most damaging decisions made in the last four years were made from 5-4 votes. There is no need to detail these decisions for you, we've all suffered the embarrassment of grade changing scandals without full accountability, wasteful jobs created for board members and their friends, a lack of educational focus, painful negotiations and harassment of teachers and other employees. Electing Powell, Picini and Grossman would, for the first time in several years, change the tide and break the current majority.

Representatives from each building came together to support Powell, Picini and Grossman because we understood that we had to send a message that the direction of the district had to change. All the candidates, including Ms. Lisa Grossman, were interviewed thoroughly. Direct questions were asked about extremely controversial topics under her watch. Even though there were some differences of opinion, in the end, the BTA decided her strengths and independence from the current BOE majority was in the best interests of the district and she is only one vote on the board. There is no better proof of the change she represents than the panicked reaction by some of the current majority.

The proposed budget is the first one for our district under the new tax cap. Right now, we are looking minimal excessing for teachers in the district. Retirements absorbed many of those lost positions. If the budget does not pass, we are looking at a 20+ loss in FTE's on top of the positions lost with the proposed budget. That is the equivalent of at least 1-2 jobs in each secondary subject area and 1-2 elementary positions in each grade level.

I am asking you to do what you can to help us get the word out about the budget and the BOE candidates. These elections are ALWAYS close. Let's rally ALL of those that we know to take this opportunity to put us on track with better leadership and a passed budget. Without your hard work during the rough times and your guidance, we wouldn't be where we are today. Once again, thank you for all of your past and present help!!

In Unity,

Wayne White

South Country BOE Election

May 5, 2012

I have been working with a group (Concerned Residents of South Country) to promote the candidacy of Chris Picini, Lisa Grossman, and Rob Powell.  This slate has been endorsed by the BTA and they are putting up their signs and completing their mailings.  We have been working together to promote this slate.  You have a great e-mail list that can reach many retired South Country teachers and others.  I am requesting that you send out a blast to all your contacts reminding them of the election on Tuesday, May 15 and the importance of supporting this group. 

Scott A. Horsley

Regarding Miglino reimbursement
I was unable to address the board
at the May 2 board meeting about the
resolution proposed at that meeting
to reimburse an employee (Mr.
Miglino) for legal fees. Enclosed is
a brief explanation why the resolution
should not be enacted.
First, let me clarify Mr. Miglino’s
position in this proceeding. Mr. Miglino
was named as a party in the
action against the board in his individual
capacity only because by
law, as the incumbent in the position
sought to be abolished, he was
a necessary party. Failure to name
him could have invalidated the entire
proceeding. Once the judgment
declared the position null and void,
his individual rights were invalidated.
As an individual, defending his
right to employment in his position
(a position which no longer exists),
he has no legal right to appeal this
proceeding, nor does the board have
any legal grounds upon which to pay
his legal fees.
Moreover, under Education Law
Section 3811, the relevant law
herein, before any reimbursement,
an employee must prove that the
actions were against him, and that
those challenged actions were within
the scope of his employment. Miglino
has failed to do so.
In a review of similar cases, the
courts interpreting Section 3811
have ruled that the employee or
member of the board was not entitled
to be reimbursed for legal fees.
So, in McNulty, the court denied
reimbursement of legal fees on the
grounds that Section 3811 “does not
extend to costs incurred by an employee
in defending his right to employment
in his position.” In Pappas,
even though charges that were
filed against a board member seeking
his removal from a school board
were unsuccessful, the member was
not awarded legal fees because the
charges against the member did not
arise out of the performance of his
duties.
The decision by Judge Baisley
invalidated the action of the board
and declared the position of Building
Services Administrator null and
void on its face. Miglino’s appeal to
retain his job does not comply with
the mandates under Education Law
3811 and the board has no legal or
moral obligation to enact the resolution
that would reimburse his legal
fees. In truth, if the board enacts the
resolution giving taxpayers’ money
to Miglino to pursue a frivolous appeal,
they will be unlawfully wasting
taxpayers’ funds and placing themselves
and the school district at risk
to a taxpayers’ action.
Regina Seltzer
Bellport

Concerned over South Country transparency

I am deeply concerned with many
of the recent decisions made by the
South Country Board of Education.
An area of concern is transparency
and communication with regard to
the budget process. I strongly believe
that there is a need for the trustees to
be more aware of, engaged with, and
responsive to the concerns of our
community.
As a former board of education
member, I can attest that for many
years, our district had a Budget
Advisory Committee, comprised of 12
to 15 concerned residents appointed
by the BOE. After receiving input
from administrators, faculty, staff,
students, parents and taxpayers,
the committee presented budget
recommendations to the board. The
board gave due consideration and
serious evaluation to the suggestions,
and where appropriate, included the
committee’s suggestions in their
own recommendations for the final
budget, which was then presented to
the community for a vote. This was
an ongoing and collaborative process
whereby the board of education and
representatives of our community
worked together to address the
educational needs in a fiscally
responsible manner. Unfortunately,
the board has done away with this
committee.
It is time for school district
government to be more transparent,
more in tune with the community’s
wishes and more centered on the
needs of our students. On May 15,
I will be voting for newcomer Chris
Picini and trustees Lisa Di Santo
Grossman and Rob Powell. These
three are committed to decisions that
are in the best interest of our students,
as well as fiscal accountability and
restoring integrity to our school
district.
Mary Jane Cullen
Brookhaven

Questions business mentor


In 1966, I took a position as
assistant to the business official,
Bob Hausner, in the Patchogue-
Medford public schools, which,
at the time, had close to 10,000
students and a major construction
program (a project in the works in
each of the five years I was there).
Bob was a business ed teacher who
elected to become an administrator
and was a fine business official,
needing no mentoring. However, I
soon realized that the vast majority
of our colleagues in school business
management had no experience or
training in business management.
This is especially egregious when
one considers that school districts
are generally complex multi-million
dollar operations. At the time,
Bill Bianchi, a state assemblyman
and close friend, and I wrote and
proposed legislation to require some
business training for those who
wanted certification as business
administrators; it failed and I
was essentially “drummed out” of
our New York State Association of
School Business Officials.
Almost 30 years later, the New
York State Department of Education
has created a new certification for
business officials requiring business
training, which leads to the question:
Why is it necessary to hire a business
manager to “mentor” the Assistant
Superintendent for Business affairs
in the South Country schools
when, presumably, there is a list of
candidates who already have the
necessary credentials and business
acumen to do the job?
In my opinion, this constitutes an
insult to the intelligence of South
Country Central School District
taxpayers.
Wesley Springhorn
Bellport

Service vs. vanity
The past several months have been
tumultuous for the South Country
School District — including allegations
of grade fixing by the superintendent,
a reported pervasive atmosphere of
intimidation within the schools and a
Supreme Court decision of improper
job creation and hiring practices by the
board of education — culminating in a
significant monetary settlement with
the superintendent in order to avoid a
protracted legal battle.
In the wake of this turmoil, residents
will be asked to vote for three
candidates for the board of education.
The last thing this district needs now is
for this election to devolve into an epic
battle of candidate egos. Serving on the
board requires a sincere devotion to
improving educational opportunities.
It is not to be undertaken lightly. It
involves dedication and sacrifice.
It should not be contorted into an
opportunity to salve bruised pride.
We can expect to hear candidates
claim to be “all about the kids” — as
we have come to expect political
candidates to “wrap themselves in the
flag” while running for office, and this
rhetoric should have the same hollow
ring. Candidates should be prepared
to explain clearly and frequently their
position on issues such as nepotism,
intimidation and cheating, and the
impact of these practices on education.
I believe that a candidate who is
not ready and willing to vigorously
denounce these practices and those
who engage in them cannot truly be
“all about the kids.”
Candidates motivated by ego rather
than an obligation to service will
be unlikely to help guide the school
district onto a healing path or to make
wise decisions emphasizing student
needs over adult vanity.
Lawrence T. Hoff
East Patchogue


No buyouts, please
I am hopeful for the sake of my loved
ones’ budgets that the members of the
school board of the South Country
School District will not approve any expensive
buyouts or golden parachutes
for departing school officials.
Richard Morgan
Brookhaven


A correction noted
I must correct information that
appeared in last week’s article, “South
Country superintendent resigns.” The
South Country Central School District
Board of Education voted 5-3 to accept
the resignation of the superintendent
in return for a financial package. The
writer attributed one of the votes in the
negative to me. This is not correct, as
I was not in attendance at the meeting
due to a promise I made to my 10-yearold
daughter. Those in the community
who have been attending school board
meetings on a regular basis know that
my vote would have been in the negative
had I been able to attend. I did offer to
participate via conference call, but was
told that I could not vote in this manner
by the school district’s attorney. I was
quite certain that my attendance wouldnot have changed the eventual outcome, so I
chose to keep my promise to my daughter.
I do want to give credit where credit is
due. While I have already privately done so, I
would like to publicly thank Mr. Julio Morales
for his vote in the negative.
Lisa Di Santo Grossman
East Patchogue
 

To the South Country teachers
I am expressing these words as a
community member and parent. Throughout
this difficult and arduous process, the South
Country Central School District’s teachers
continued to perform their instructional
duties in a professional and dignified manner.
I congratulate all on proceeding with good
faith and settling the contract.
From working with children for many years,
I do understand the intrinsic gratification we
feel when we participate in their successful
progression. Awards, commendations,
accolades and thank-yous are not the
driving force. That being said, I would like
to personally thank the teachers for being
instrumental in the academic success of
my children. You have helped provide the
foundation and inspiration for them to follow
their dreams. Together, you, friends and our
extended family have produced an engineer,
a teacher and, on July 1, 2012, a doctor. Good
things have happened, can happen and will
continue to happen in Bellport.
Your sacrifice and impact does not go
unnoticed. I hope you do not underestimate
the power you possess. My children
have received much praise and many
honors for their achievements. The one
acknowledgement that I carry in my wallet is
a two-year-old email from a teacher. It reads:
‘Dear Mr. and Mrs. Powell, I am very proud
of ... for declining to retake a section of her
quarterly exam because it might be unfair to
other students. When I see parents teaching
their children to choose their actions based
on moral and ethical values rather than
expediency, I feel honored to be a teacher
and optimistic about the future of our nation.
Thank you.’
Let’s work together on identifying and
strengthening our deficiencies so all children
can have the opportunity to follow their
dreams and all of us can be optimistic about
the future of our nation and the future of our
schools.
Rob Powell
Trustee, South Country School Board

Big cash award for Joseph Cipp Jr.
March 30, 2012

This incredible award to a district superintendent sends a strange message to the students in the South Country District: Face an investigation for allegedly violating the rules, and you shall be rewarded.
There are procedures for removing employees. School board president Victor Correa said the board agreed to Joseph Cipp Jr.'s resignation and $545,000 cash payout because the cost of litigation to force him out would have been greater than $1 million. This board gave an administratively inexperienced, retired physical education teacher a five-year contract. Where did it get the very round "$1 million" cost of adjudication?
This looks like cronyism at its worst, at the expense of the taxpayers of this district.
David K. Winslow
Brookhaven

 

Letter not accurate

In my letter to the editor last
week, I stated that Carl Moodt, Greg
Miglino and Joe Cipp, while board
of education members, voted to fire
a superintendent of schools of the
South Country School District. After
sending the letter, I learned that this
information was incorrect. From what
I now understand, the superintendent
left under pressure. I apologize for the
unintentional error.
Larry Tierney
Brookhaven

Wants the budget to pass


I fully expect to read commentary in the
Advance regarding the outcome of the South
Country CSD board meeting of March 21.
My expectation is the suggested audacity of
Mr. Cipp’s resignation and partial contract
buyout. For anyone to put forward (and
multiple attendees did) that Mr. Cipp should
have resigned with no financial settlement is
ludicrous. No matter on what side of the fence
you sit, the bottom line is that a contracted
employee has certain employment rights
as outlined by the contract itself. Similarly,
there seemed to be loud applause for the
confirmation of a ratified teacher contract for
the BTA, so we must, in large part, support
the idea of contracts for employees.
Some said it was the principle of the
matter. Mr. Cipp should have done what
was right. However, that is based on the
notion that you accept the final report by
Bronwyn Black as the truth, as opposed to
a summary comprised of inaccuracies and
inconsistencies, not conducted in an underoath
affidavit setting. Mr. O’Connell proved
to us that was a priority, given his recant of
Mr. Cipp’s involvement once he was placed
under oath.
I made many observations during this last
week’s board meeting and have seen and
heard enough to know that I will continue to
come. I take a particular interest in special
education and have a passion to see our
budget considered carefully with the least
disruption to our education services and
extracurricular activities. Our community
needs to pass the budget so that we don’t
face even more grave financial outcomes
and impact to the quality of education in our
schools.
Melissa Loizides
East Patchogue

The SCREA Newsletter welcomes letters. Letters used in this
publication are the opinion of the author, and not that of this publication. Please include your full name, address, phone number, and/ or e-mail address.
If we receive many letters on a given topic, we will print a representative sample of the opinions expressed.
Letters from the Long Island Advance are reprinted with the editors permission.

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