November 12 2015 FEA Europe Update

Alex's Update


1. Thanksgiving
2. Area Directors' Travels
3. American Education Week
4. Farewells
5. Area JCC
6. Update
7. Grievance Procedure
8. Educational Support Professionals Day
9. Inclement Weather
10. Federal Benefits Open Season
11. Mark Your Calendar
12. VERA/VSIP and Transfers
13. Mailing Deadlines
14. Advent Calendar
15. DoDDS Reunion

1. Thanksgiving - Since I now have realized, what with the Board of Directors meeting and the Holiday itself, that this will be my last official Update prior to Thanksgiving I would just like to take a moment and wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving Holiday. I know that one of the many things that I am thankful for is the opportunity to work alongside all of you.

2. Area Directors' Travels -- This will be a very busy month of travel for me. I will fly to the US on November 14. There both Lisa and I will attend the FEA Board of Directors Meeting in Washington from November 16 through November 20. I will then be traveling to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving with my family. I plan to be back in Germany by December 1. Assuming that my CAC reader does not go haywire on me I will check mail on Outlook daily. Also, you can use to reach me. Please always remember that for the most breaking news go to on a regular basis.

3. American Education Week -- Next week, November 16 through November 20, it will be American Education Week. To find out more about this event, go to: this page.

z. Farewells -- It is with great regret that I have to let you know that two of our most trusted and valuable HR personnel from the Area office are going to be leaving DoDEA before the Winter Break. Marjorie ‘Lyn' Dixon, currently the Chief of the HR Division in Sembach, and Yolanda Deutschmann, also of the Personnel Division, and known to most of us as the ‘Retirement Guru', have both announced their retirements. They both worked very closely with educators and will be missed. For example, if you were one of the teachers who were excessed at the last minute last spring, then you can give Lyn a lot of the credit for your quick placement. And that's only scratching the surface of what she has done for members. If you have recently retired or in the process of planning for it, then you almost certainly have had contact with Yolanda. Not sure exactly who I will be turning to in the future for retirement questions because she was the expert! Bottom line is that both of these folks will be sorely missed by all of us. Lyn and Yolanda, please accept our absolute sincere wishes for all the best in your future no matter what your plans. Again, thank you!

5. Area JCC -- The next Area JCC will be held in Sembach on Friday, December 4, at 1100.We will publish the minutes as soon as they are finalized. The minutes from the October 23 JCC are attached.

6. Update- We will always let you know if something newsworthy comes up. In the meantime, check regularly with for your best source for breaking news. The next Update will be the President's Report on November 16. Please also be reminded again that if you do go to FEA online you can sign up to have the President's Report emailed directly to you.

7. Grievance Procedure -- (I get a lot of questions on this.) The Negotiated Agreement lays out the Grievance Procedure and purpose. Article 12, Section 1 states: "The negotiated grievance procedure is established to provide unit employees with an opportunity to raise matters of concern or dissatisfaction for informal, and where appropriate, formal consideration and resolution." It further states, "It is the intent of the parties to resolve grievances informally at the earliest possible time and at the lowest possible level. The filing of a grievance shall not be construed as reflecting unfavorably on a unit employee's good standing, his/her performance, or his/her loyalty or desirability to the organization..." Please see your FRS for further information on the Grievance Process and timeline.

8. Education Support Professionals Day -- November 18, Education Support Professionals (ESP) Day focuses on the importance of these school employees, who take care of students every day, making sure they have the tools they need to succeed in school. Education Support Professionals (ESP) Day was first celebrated in 1987, after NEA's Representative Assembly called for the creation of a way to honor the contributions of school support staff. In 2003, Karen Mahurin, then president of NEA's National Council of Education Support Professional (NCESP) members, led a successful campaign at the NEA Representative Assembly to change the ESP formal name from 'Education Support Personnel' to 'Education Support Professionals.' "The name change to 'professional' acknowledges the major contribution ESPs make to children and public education every day," said Mahurin, a secretary with 22 years of experience. "We impact the lives of children every day in our own special and professional ways." The name reflects a growing pride in the valuable role ESPs play throughout America's public schools. Today's support professionals provide invaluable services that enable students to learn in positive, supportive environments. ESPs are equal and essential partners in the education process.

9. Inclement Weather - With cold weather on its way (although it doesn't feel like it right now), FRS's should work with your principals to insure that the lines of communication are clear in case of school delays or closures. Please remember that the military commander makes the decision on weather related delays and closures. Attached is Article 22, Section 4 of the Negotiated Agreement which deals with school closures.

10. Federal Benefits Open Season -- This year's Federal Benefits Open Season will run from Monday, November 9,2015 through Monday, December 14, 2015. During the annual Open Season, employees can take the actions listed below for the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS), Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), and the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB)Program. Please note that the Open Season window is now open.

- Enroll in a flexible spending account
- Enroll in, change, or cancel an existing enrollment in a dental plan under the FEDVIP Program.
- Enroll in, change, or cancel an existing enrollment in a vision plan under the FEDVIP Program.
- Enroll in, change, or cancel an existing enrollment in a health plan under the FEHB Program.

11. Mark Your Calendars-
November 16 -- 20 -- American Education Week
November 18 -- ESP Day
November 16-20 -- FEA Board of Directors Meeting in Washington, D.C.
November 26 -- Thanksgiving

12. VERA/VSIP and Transfers -- As of the last Area JCC on October 23 there is no news at this point as to VERA/VSIP for this year. FEA will stay in close contact with the Area office to make sure that we get any news out on this as soon as possible. Last week there were meetings held in Washington regarding the possibility of a transfer round this school year and also, if so, what it might look like. Transfer information will likely appear first at

13. Mailing Deadlines -- While at the APO here in Vilseck I noted the mailing deadlines for this year. While some other APO's and FPO's might be slightly different, I doubt that their deadline would be much different.
SAM 11/25
PAL 12/3
Priority and 1st Class 12/10
Priority Express 12/17

14. Advent Calendar - An Advent Calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. The days often overlap with the Christian season of Advent. Despite the name, most commercially available Advent Calendars begin on December 1, regardless of when Advent begins, which can be as early as November 27 and as late as December 3. Many take the form of a large rectangular card with "windows" of which there are usually 24: one for each day of December leading up to Christmas Day. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, poem, and a portion of a story or a small gift, such as a toy or a chocolate item. Those of us in Europe can't possibly have missed seeing these piled in store windows. Some calendars are strictly religious, whereas others are secular in content. Click here for a fun electronic calendar that you can use with your class. Don't cheat -- you open the first door on December 1 this year. In the meantime, clicking on the pictures at the top will get you to some very usable activities.

15. DoDDS Reunion--The annual DoDDS reunion will be held July 14-July 17, 2015 in Spokane, Washington at The Oak Brook Marriot hotel. For registration information go to: DODDS Reunion .Register early as prices go up as the event gets closer.

Alex Veto
FEA Europe Area Director