November 30, 2016, FEA Europe Update

Alex's Update


1. Thanks
2. Area Directors' Travels
3. VERA/VSIP, Excessing, and Transfers
4. Holiday Run-Up
5. Update
6. SY 2017-2018 Calendar
7. Area JCC
8. Holiday Travels
9. Substitute Teachers
10. Staffing Documents
11. Mark Your Calendar
12. Winter Solstice
13. No Comment
14. OPM Open Season
15. NEA Representative Assembly Election
16. Mailing Deadlines
17. Debt Letters

1. Thanks -- In my last Update, I made a comment that I did not think that many of you would take the time to read it. I was simply referring to the fact that it came out on the same day as the election results, so I figured that it would be swallowed up in the avalanche of news stories on that event. Well, surprisingly to me, many of you responded favorably to me by telling me that they did in fact regularly read my Updates, and thanked me for doing them. These compliments were not what I was fishing for, but I'll take them and will continue to do the best that I can with these newsletters. DoDEA makes it easy -- there is always something to report. Again, thanks for your many kind words!

2. Area Directors' Travels -- I have just returned from the States where I attended the FEA Board of Directors Meeting. Next week I will be traveling to Sembach for the Area JCC on Wednesday and also to hopefully visit some schools in the Ramstein complex. While on the road you can always reach me at as well as at my school address. Please always remember that for the most breaking news to check on a regular basis.

3. VERA/VSIP, Excessing, and Transfers -- The message attached here was sent out on Monday, November 28, as an Information Update for FEA Members. Many of you I am sure have already seen it but for the sake of those few who may not have done so, here it is again. FEA's Transfer Update.

4. Holiday Run-Up -- This week begins the 3 week run-up to the Winter Holidays. It is a time of the year to be much enjoyed, what with festive markets, great music, and delicious seasonal foods. However, you also need to look after yourself and your colleagues at this time. Students can be very active and a bit out of control as the big holiday approaches. Enjoy the season and everything that goes with it, but don't let your guard down.

5. 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. My next Update will be on or about December 14. 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.

6. SY 2017-2018 Calendar -- There have been many questions raised recently concerning the school calendar for next school year. DoDEA has proposed starting earlier in August of 2017, while the FEA Board of Directors is taking the position that such a change at this stage of this school year is too late and that any changes be instituted for SY 2018-2019. Further news should be coming out on this issue imminently.

7. Area JCC -- The next Area JCC will be a combined November/December meeting scheduled for December 7. We will publish the minutes as soon as they are available.

8. Holiday Travels - For those of you traveling during the upcoming Winter Break, here are some travel tips. Make sure you have copies of all your passports and other important documents stored separately from the originals when you travel. Make sure you have up-to-date contact information in your wallet or purse in the event of an accident, etc. You may want to include local contact information as well as stateside contacts. It is also a good idea to let a colleague know your travel plans and contact numbers in case of emergency.

9. Substitute Teachers -- At the recent FEA BoD meeting held in DC last week one of the bigger issues discussed was a critical shortage of substitute teachers in DoDEA worldwide. No clear answers were available at this time as to what is causing this, although possible problems range from not enough applicants to the time it takes to process applications. In any event, something is broken and needs to be fixed. This issue is also tied together with teacher vacancies that also need to be filled. In one school that I represent there are 6 substitutes acting as classroom teachers daily because of these vacancies. That is 6 less subs available to cover for sick days and APL days. While travelling to DC I passed through Philadelphia, and was riding on the subway. I noticed among the ads posted inside the car that there was one for substitute teachers in the Philadelphia School District. They were offering $126 a day and if you actually had a teaching certificate the rate was $161. Compare that to DoDEA's scale of $105.50 per day for all applicants. That rate has hardly risen at all over the number of years. Don't know if this is part of the problem or not, but I just thought that I would mention it. Please be aware that every FEA officer is doing all that we can to try and solve this problem.

10.Staffing Documents - Staffing documents are now arriving in the schools. When they are received in the schools, the FRS should work with the principal to compare these to the current year's staffing documents in order to see the changes and impact of those changes. If there are problems or mistakes in these documents, principals will need to contact their District Superintendents Office to address those concerns. FRS's should also contact their District Reps. Please remember that these are working documents and there may be changes that are necessary. I know that this is a stressful time in schools where there is concern about excessing, but FEA will be working at all levels to insure that staffing and excessing procedures are followed correctly.

11. Mark Your Calendar-
December 14 -- Last Day of Open Season
December 19-January 3 -- Winter Recess
December 21 -- First Full Day of Winter
December 23 -- Festivus
December 25 -- Hanukkah
December 25 -- Christmas Day

12. Winter Solstice -- This year winter officially begins at 5:44 A.M EST, on December 21. From that point on the days start getting longer so summer is on its way! (Yeh, right!) At the website that follows there is a wealth of classroom activities for the winter season. NEA's Winter Classroom Resources

13. No Comment - click here

14. Office of Personnel Management Open Season -Each year, Open Season runs from the Monday of the second full workweek in November through the Monday of the second full workweek in December. This year, Open Season runs from November 9, 2016 through December 14, 2016.This is an opportunity to change insurance plans and to elect other Federal benefits, such as the flexible savings accounts. While it is still a while away it doesn't hurt to start thinking about this now since the Open Season coincides with one of the busiest times of the year. For further information go to: OPM's Open Season page . (You will see this again in future Updates. I don't want anyone to miss these dates if they are contemplating a change.)

15. NEA Representative Assembly Election -- The most recent edition of the Unity is now arriving at schools with important information about running as a delegate to the 2017 National Education Association Representative Assembly. Please note the deadlines, this year being January 15.This year the RA will be held in Boston, Massachusetts, over the weekend of the 4th of July. Start thinking now about running for one of these delegate positions. NEA's RA information FAQs Please note that the information comes from last year's RA, but it is the same for 2017.

16. Mailing Deadlines -- While at the APO here in Vilseck I noted the Holiday 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.
25 November, SAM parcels
02 December, PAL parcels
09 December, Priority parcels
09 December, First Class letters
16 December, Express Mail

17. Debt Letters -- The other day I was reading an article written by Bill Freeman, one of our UniServ directors tasked with trying to help members with pay related problems. It read in part: "There has been another rash of debt letters recently. Unfortunately, DoDDS calculations of debts are incorrect at least 50% of the time". There was more to the article than this but it wasn't until I looked at the date that it really became troubling to me. This particular article ran in the August 2005 copy of the Unity! And the problem still persists!

Alex Veto
FEA Europe Area Director