Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saranac Lake Central School District - Supervision and Evaluation

One of the longer articles of the SLCSD teachers contract is Article XII. Bargaining Unit Member Supervision and Evaluation (pages 10-13).

Here are a few things in section A of Article XII. New teachers get a minimum of three observations per year starting Oct. 15th of the school year. Observations should be made by mutual agreement at least 24 hrs prior to the observation. Note taking by the observer shall be done as inconspicuously as possible and the observer shall not participate in classroom activities in any manner unless expressly invited by the bargaining unit member.

Section B covers circumstances in which the building administrator becomes aware of significant pedagogical inadequacies in a bargaining unit member's performance. There are specific steps which must be followed to place a bargaining unit member into remediation.

Saranac Lake Central School District - Additional Pay

Ever wonder how much the teacher is getting for coaching football or basketball or hockey? How about for advising the Art Club, Honor Society or directing the Musical? Did you know that high school class advisors get paid? It's all public knowledge but it's just not usually publically provided. Here is some information obtained from the Athletic and Extracurricular Pay Schedule 2007 - 2008 (year 3 of contract).

Let's look at some typical Head Coaching salaries for this school year (no difference between boys and girls head coaching salaries within a like sport)(all step 3):

Varsity Baseball $3483
XC Varsity Boys and Girls $3050
Varsity Football $4526
Varsity Boys Basketball $4421
Varsity Girls Basketball $4421
Varsity Boys Hockey $4732
Varsity Lacrosse $3483
Indoor Track $2969
Outdoor Track $3483
Soccer $3517
Golf $3483
Skiing $3202

Here are some salaries for extracurricular activities:

Art Club $1056
Outdoor Club $818

Director of Musical $2749
Asst. Dir/Choreographer $2595
Costumer $1208
Music director $1670
Stage manager $1363
[Assume these monies come from admission fees to the musical, but not sure]

Extra band days $1606
Extra chorus days $1606

Class advisors, 4 ea @ $1320
Year book advisor $3517
Video Club advisor $1375

Saranac Lake Central School District - Health Insurance

The Saranac Lake Central School District provides health insurance in a consortium of school districts including Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES, Brushton-Moira Central, Chateaugay Central, Lake Placid Central, Malone Central, St. Regis Falls Central, Salmon River Central and Tupper Lake Central schools. The consortium has a governance structure consisting of 9 school district representatives and 9 bargaining unit represtatives. Basically, these Districts insure themselves.

As I understand the contract, the consortium is required to maintain negotiated insurance premiums for 3 year periods. The premiums for the 1997-99 periods were $2,280 for single coverage and $6,012 for family coverage. I do not know what the current premiums are but they are surely significantly higher than they were in 1999.

Drug co-pays for 1997 were $3 for generic,$5 for brand name and $0 for mail order. If a generic equivalent does not exist, the generic co-pay will apply. Major medical deductible for 1997 was $150/$450.

12. D of the Memorandum of Understanding reads: New premium rates will be computed effective July 1, 1997 based on the gain/loss of single and family coverage at a level necessary to generate a pool of money as if no change was made. Effective March 1, 1997 and on March 1st each year thereafter, a demographic comparison of the number of employees otherwise eligible for a second family coverage shall be performed. If the number of such employees has changed in comparison to the prior year, then the total pool of money may be increased or decreased accordingly as determined by the governing board.

According to the 2005-2008 Teachers contract: As of July 1, 1997, the bargaining unit member's share of the health insurance premium shall be $250 for family coverage and $125 for individual coverage (article XXIX. A. 2.).

Moreover: Effective July 1, 1996, any bargaining unit member who elects not to receive any health insurance from the district for a minimum of one year shall receive a stipend of $1500 annually (article XXIX. A. 6.).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Saratoga Trunk - Yaddo Gardens

Yaddo Gardens are on the grounds of the Trask Estate. Yaddo is currently used as a residency for artists.

Maliki's Fault

Failure in Iraq is all Prime Minister Maliki's fault. That is what both Democrats and Republicans are now saying. So can we bring the troops home now?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Enemies of Reason - Part 1

This is the BBC television production starring Prof. Dawkins. Dawkins visits several practioners of alternative medicine. Do yourself a favor and watch them. Part two can be found here.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise Web Poll

Look at the comments posted at North Country Now's web poll site. It seems that reasoned, intelligent, responses to an online anonymous web poll are possible. So why can't Saranac Lakers do the same in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise web poll comments. For a comparative example see here.

Here are a few comments to the poll question Does the Minneapolis bridge collapse make you more hesitant to cross bridges?

The beautiful thing about the USA is our freedoms. Freedom to dress as we want; have gay sex if we want; speak as we want; practice religion as we want; shop where we want ...

If you don't like your choices, you can either dial 911 for a WAAAmbulance or get real and run for public office.

Quit your whining. If you want change, then step up to the plate and make a difference.

It's shame that some of the wacko progressives in this country just can't imagine that there is actually people who disagree with them. From their Godless Church, the Unitarians, to their claim that being gay is natural and normal they have managed to confuse our young. Thankfully some of us remember what the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement was actually about. It was about stopping people like them. Communists and Anarchists. It was about equality for all who followed the laws of our land.

ROFLOL ... you're crackin me up. I was at the retail-cap meeting last night. Talk about a chicken-little crowd. Like one decent sized retailer would totally ruin the Village. As if SL would be covered with urban sprawl, or turned into a Boston suburb in 10 years if one large retailer came in.

Duh ... look around, they aren't braking down our door to come here!

And it was like a 60's love-in session, what's with all the guys with pony tails and women with tie-dyed skirts. Hippietown USA.

All this hogwash about the unitarian cult is untrue. In 1976 while attending Potsdam State I joined this cult. At the time they were trying to be accepted as a mainstream religion so they could obtain tax exempt status. By their own propaganda, they did not fit the qualifications. They billed themselves as the "Thinking Man's Church". All the prophets were called "leaders of men". Jesus, Mohammad etc were classified as mere men with "special messages". Their claim was science disproved religions

Get real! Christians don't help anyone but themselves. They extort money from sad and lonely fools with false promises from an imaginary "Savior", then use the dough they steal to buy fancy hats. There is no God, loving or otherwise, and it was probably Christians that collapsed that bridge. The weight of all that monstrous egotism did the poor thing in.

The Weimar President?

Is conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan calling President Bush a fascist? Bush and his neoconservative friends see things only in black and white. You are either with them or against them. But that is not enough. If you oppose Bush's position(s) on the war you are not only against the are a traitor, someone who does not support the troops, an America hater.

G.W. Bush is a sad, sad man. He blew an opportunity to go after bin Laden and terrorists that actually attacked us with the full support of the country. But doing that would not have helped the Republican party so Bush decided (with the advice of Karl Rove) to be divisive. Now the whole country, as well as Iraq, is paying for Bush's mistakes.

Is Iraq Like Vietnam?

Yes and no. Read this article by Prof. Robert Dalleck.

In my opinion the wars are/were similar in that neither of them is/was winnable.

Saranac Lake School District Superintendent Abruptly Leaves

Scott Amo, Superintendent of the Saranac Lake School District, is leaving in October to become Superintendent of the Beekmantown School District.

This is not surprising for a couple of reasons. First, Amo's wife is a principle at a Plattsburgh school. Amo cuts his "commute" time down drastically by obtaining a job closer to Plattsburgh. Amo, like previous superintendents, was hired by Saranac Lake with the condition that he reside in the District. The current school board cut him quite a bit of slack by ignoring the residency condition.

Second, the Saranac Lake School District is becoming a well known district for new superintendents to get experience or for superintendents needing a medium-term "interim" position.

It's not clear how much time remains on Amo's current contract with the SLCSD. Not that it really matters. Superintendents contracts only work one way. It provides them with job security and does nothing for the District if the Superintendent decides to break the contract and move on to another school district. But good luck to Mr. Amo. I hope he can get along better with the Beekmantown School Board than the previous superintendent. And, thank-you Mr. Amo for leaving at the beginning of a new school year. That was very professional of you.

Now who will replace Amo at the SLCSD? Let's forget about an "interim" superintendent. Saranac Lake has a very, very well qualified and experienced principle and administrator currently working for the District. He is a lifetime resident of Saranac Lake and lives in the District. He was a candidate during the last superintendent search.

It's time for the District residents and taxpayers to rise up and insist that our School Board immediately hire Mr. Patrick Hogan, current Principle of the Bloomingdale School, as our next District Superintendent.

UPDATE: The School Board has hired Mr. John Raymond as interim superintendent.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Saratoga Trunk - Clubhouse

Negative Book Reviews Can Get You Sued

Prof. P.J. Meyers (and Seed Magazine), of Pharyngula fame, is being sued by NY business man Stuart Pivar for publishing a negative review of Pivar's book "Lifecode: The Theory of Biological Self Organization". It seems the reviewers at Amazon aren't that crazy about the book either. Pivar, a close friend of Stephen Jay Gould, claims that Gould was not a "Darwinist" and did not accept natural selection as an evolutionary mechanism.

So here is the complaint in a nutshell. Pivar, a businessman with no scientific background, writes a book about development and sends it to developmental biologist expert P.Z. Meyers. Meyers gives the book a poor review and thus the lawsuit. Pivar has been involved with at least 25 other lawsuits but he wasn't the dry cleaner lawsuit guy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Saratoga Trunk - Race Day!

I usually bet on the jockey but they let me down this year. Didn't call a single race. Luckly, my race budget is only $20 (unless I win). It was fun no matter what and the International Chili Contest made it even more fun.

"Wounded" in Iraq

An Op-Ed by Bob Herbert in todays NYT (subscription needed) really opened my eyes concerning our "wounded" soldier from the Iraq War. What do you think of when you hear a soldier was wounded. Shot in the arm or leg? How about this version from a wounded soldier?
“I was like, ‘Oh, we got hit. We got hit.’ And then I had blood on my face and the flies were landing all over my face. So I wiped my face to get rid of the flies. And that is when I noticed that my fingertip was gone. So I was like, ‘Oh. O.K.’

“So that is when I started really assessing myself. I was like, ‘That’s not bad.’ And then I turned my hand over, and I noticed that this chunk of my hand was gone. So I was like, ‘O.K., still not bad. I can live with that.’

“And then when I went to wipe the flies on my face with my left hand, there was nothing there. So I was like, ‘Uh, that’s gone.’ And then I looked down and I saw that my legs were gone. And then they had kind of forced my head back down to the ground, hoping that I wouldn’t see.”
This was from a series of interviews of wounded soldiers for an HBO documentary called "Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq". Be sure and watch the promo video.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Saratoga Trunk - Back Stretch Tour Pt. 2

Saratoga Trunk - Saturday Morning - Backstretch Tour Pt. 1

Tours of the backstretch (barns, exercise tracks, housing etc.) are given from 8 AM to 9:30 AM on a first come, first served basis. A trolley hauls you out there and brings you back to the clubhouse. It lasts about 45 minutes and it is something everyone should do.

Saratoga Trunk - Friday Day 1

Early Friday was spent picking up the Maryland/NJ gang at the Albany airport and train station. We had to be at the Holiday Inn by 10 AM to get online for Grand Stand tickets. While the ladies took care of getting the tickets....the gentlemen retired to the bar for drinks. A short time was spent at the Gelato shop and a very little bit of shopping. The evening was spent at the Harness Track and Racino. This place did not allow cameras so no pictures for you. The Racino sucks and is only good for losing money. Harness racing is fun to watch but difficult to bet on. My only decent bet was on a horse that broke stride about 100 feet into the race.

Stay tuned for pictures of the Backstretch tour (awesome), the races, Sunday breakfast and clubhouse, Yaddo gardens and Albany/NYS Museum/911 Exhibit.

DDT As A Mosquito Repellent

Dr. Donald Roberts makes a case, in todays New York Times, for the use of DDT in controlling malaria.