Once again the RVF gathered for the semi-annual route 209 highway cleanup. The RVF adopted the strip of route 209 that extends from the RVF office to Kyserike Road. On Saturday, October 23rd a number of dedicated members and one student came together to do their part to keep our community beautiful.
I’m not going to lie. We are definitely facing challenging times. A pandemic, an economic crisis, civil unrest, and racial injustice, and now our district is facing a $5 million deficit from our state aid that could destroy our programs as we know them. Parents and other community members are struggling to make ends meet, and our members are trying to figure out how to educate their own children at home while they are at work themselves. Some of our members are trying to get medical accommodations and finding that red tape is in their way. The Marbletown construction project is not going as planned. And the internet is already crashing in small department and grade-level meetings. These are certainly trying times.
Last year on opening day, I discussed my vision for our future and my commitment to our union’s mission of creating a closer relationship and better understanding between ourselves, the community, and the administration. While the COVID-19 virus tried to stand in our way and prevent this, we came together anyway. While our political leaders tried to make us pawns in their experiment, we persevered. When our US President said we must return to in-person learning, the RVF followed the science and worked diligently to prevent this from happening. And we won a small victory when the district agreed to start with remote education. In fact, the RVF led the way to a remote start in the entire county by partnering with other local unions to all pass the same resolution and present it to our respective Board of Educations.
While the pandemic halted some of our plans such as the RVF picnic and retirement dinner, it couldn’t stand in the way of our mission. Countless RVF members worked at the local food pantry to help deliver food to the less fortunate of our community. RVF members created face shields and masks for our members as well as local first responders and hospitals. We delivered presents to our retirees and found creative ways to honor them and their service. We worked with the District on numerous SMOA’s and we partnered with the district with a drive to get the budget passed by our community. We sponsored the surprise signs for last year’s seniors and started a website for our members with updated COVID-19 information. We started a Remind app chain with almost every single RVF member to disseminate important information quickly. And we increased transparency by putting each month’s Executive Committee Meeting minutes in each building’s faculty room. We worked with the district to finalize our CTLE plan and submitted it to the state to become a CTLE sponsored school. We settled the secretarial contract and we held the first-ever retirement workshop for our members. We even met with each other in the July heat on Rt 209, and cleaned the RVF’s section of the highway to keep our community beautiful. Through all of this, we were still together. Members from all three of our units. We came together in unprecedented times and in unprecedented ways. Despite six feet of space between us, we have never been closer.
Although these are trying times, I know we will get through it together. We must lean on each other like never before. Don’t be afraid to help others and don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself. This year will be more important than ever to keep in touch with your building reps and attend your RVF building meetings. If you see something unsafe, contact your RVF representative right away.
While these are trying times, you all give me hope that we will get through this. The way you all showed poise and grace in the darkness of last spring motivates me. You all worked miracles out of your classrooms with no notice. You are true professionals. Like so many Americans before, every generation has had their challenge to overcome and it is our duty to take on COVID the way our grandparents took on the great depression. We will win this battle and we will do it by looking out for each other. COVID can’t stop us from uniting. Our politicians can’t stop us. The more they try to tear us apart, the more we have come together. I am happy to again report that 100% of us, including every new hire, have signed their union cards. Even the disastrous Janus decision can’t stop us.
Try to relax and take it one day at a time this year. Take some chances and have some fun with your students. Don’t be too hard on yourselves when things don’t go right. Tomorrow is another day. I wish you all a successful and rewarding year. Let’s all commit to being there for each other and caring for one another. If we do, I promise we will get through this together. Thank you and have a great year.
RVF Resolution on Keeping Our Students and Staff Safe
(Approved by the RVF Executive Committee on July 31, 2020)
WHEREAS, the health and safety of our students and their educators are paramount to us during the current COVID-19 pandemic, literally a matter of life and death, and
WHEREAS, parents and educators have serious and legitimate concerns about reopening for in-school instruction this September, and
WHEREAS, we cannot allow our schools to become centers for spreading COVID-19 infection to our families and communities, and
WHEREAS, a second outbreak of COVID-19 is widely expected this fall, complicated by the flu season, and
WHEREAS, our school district’s plans for reopening with any in-school instruction, without the needed additional resources from our federal and state governments, cannot possibly ensure safety for our students and their educators, be it therefore
RESOLVED, that we call on our school district to continue remote teaching and learning and postpone at school and in-person instruction, initially until the end of the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year and then to be reviewed moving forward, and be it further
RESOLVED, that remote instruction be fortified with continued access to technology, virtual office hours, project-based learning, guided independent study and other research-based and proven strategies, and be it finally RESOLVED, that at school and in-person learning resume only when, according to medical science, it is safe to do so without jeopardizing the safety, health and lives of our students, their families and their educators.
We are deeply saddened and heartbroken over the murder of George Floyd. Unfortunately, George Floyd’s murder is only the latest incident in a long history of abuses. As a country, we are at a crossroads and must ask ourselves what kind of a nation we are, and what direction we want to move in. As Americans, we must all use this moment to speak up and tear down the mechanisms of racism that have plagued our country from its inception. As educators, we have an obligation to facilitate the discussions that will disassemble the racism and prejudices that fuel such savage acts of violence. We must immediately address the behaviors that can fuel the fire of hate, and be models of compassion, love, and understanding for our students. Together we must stand up against inequality and prejudice. We must fight for the equal administration of justice for all human beings that abide in our land. We can no longer be silent and allow the foundations of prejudice and systemic racism to exist in our nation anymore. The RVF denounces racism and prejudice in all its forms and is committed to building a nation that treats all human beings with the same dignity and respect regardless of religion, gender, age, sexuality, or race.
~RVF President, Robert McDonough
The class of 2020 had missed many senior experiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We decided to lift their spirits in a collaborative effort.
At 7:30am on April 28, 2020 the RVF and high school principal Jessica Torok surprised our high school seniors with signs letting them know we miss them. To the class of 2020, we know how you must be feeling and we hope this surprise brightened your day!
The RVF and RVCSD are stepping up to the fight against COVID19, thanks to a 2015 grant that helped to launch a 3D-printing curriculum in K-12 tech and art classes.
When Ulster County Schools made the decision to move to online instruction due to concerns over the coronavirus, the 3D printing was put on pause while students and teachers were working and learning from home. That pause ended on Tuesday, March 24th, when Lisa Pacht, Assistant Superintendent of Schools at Rondout Valley received a request from Daniel Freedman, Dean of the School of Science and Engineering at SUNY New Paltz’s Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center, for local “makers” to create face mask shields for medical facilities.
First, Lisa Pacht sent out a request to all RVF members for unused transparency film for use in the facemasks. Then, teachers were given permission to get their printers from school and begin printing the mask shield, using design files created by SUNY New Paltz. Technology teachers Nick Bodnar and Adam Countryman and art teachers Jake Maloney and Stephen Protoss jumped at the opportunity, quickly setting up their home print labs. After some testing and fine-tuning, the teachers are currently printing nearly 50 mask frames per day. Lisa Pacht and school nurse Krista Kelly are assembling the masks and delivering the supplies directly to Ellenville Hospital as they are completed.
Other community groups and businesses have stepped up to help with supplies. SUNY New Paltz has received donations from NoVo Foundation and Central Hudson for more print filament. IBM is gearing up to create the face shields from a higher quality plastic than transparency film and the Arlington Teachers Association donated 5000 transparency overhead sheets to help with the cause. Thank you to NYSUT PAC representative Melissa Servant and Arlington Teachers Association President Bob Maier for working with us.
If you can donate any supplies, please contact:
Assistant Superintendent of Schools & Operations
Rondout Valley Central School District
Ph: 845-687-2400 press 4 ext 4102
Dean, School of Science and Engineering
Director, Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center
SUNY New Paltz
When the times get tough, the RVF gets busy. In March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures, the RVF helped take care of our community. The response was overwhelming, as over 100 RVF members volunteered their time throughout the pandemic. Thousands of pounds of food were handed out to the community during this troubling time. The RVF aided on two fronts. We helped the District hand out food to our students from each of the buildings while simultaneously helping the food pantry deliver food to the community. This quick mobilization of our members to help our community was unprecedented and humbling to all of us. The ability to come together so quickly and lean on each other for support shows the power and unity of the RVF. Thank you to the food pantry and all those who helped us.
Tuesday, November 19th was School-Related Professional Recognition Day at Rondout Valley CSD.
SRP Recognition Day acknowledges the contributions of School-Related Professionals in helping to educate the whole student. NYSUT’s 90,000 SRP members perform a variety of key roles in schools, working as bus drivers, school nurses, custodians, secretaries, food service workers, teaching assistants and aides and in dozens of other job titles. Officially established as law in 2007, SRP Recognition Day falls on the third Tuesday of each November, often during American Education Week.