December 8 2010 FEA Europe Report1. Happy Holidays !
2. Holiday Travels
3. Check Those Dates
4. Letter to Santa
5. Staffing Documents
6. Retiring or Resigning Mid Year?
8. TSP Catch Up Contributions
9. Winter Lessons and Activities
10. Health Resources
11. Coaches' Settlement Deadline
12. Mark Your Calendars
1. Happy Holidays ! -- Alex is on the road again this week, in Schweinfurt and Bamberg, so I am sending out the update this week. He will send the final one for 2010 next week. Let me take this opportunity to wish each of you a happy, healthy holiday season. Whether you travel or just stay home, I hope you have a wonderful time. Thank you for all the hard work you have done in your schools this year. I look forward to working with you in the new year...2011!
2. 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.
3. Check Those Dates - Speaking of passports, have you checked the dates on all of your important ID's and documents? It is much easier to get those things renewed if you do it BEFORE they expire. If you are going to the US for the vacation, it may be a good time to renew stateside Driver's Licenses, etc.
4. Letter to Santa -- Those of us who have been with DoDDS a long time may remember Area Director Mary Margaret McGowan's infamous letters to Santa Claus. As tempted as I might be to write one of my own, I won't. However, I will put a plug in here for Santa to bring DoDEA a team of trained, hardworking accountants to resolve the mountain of pay problems and to ensure that teachers are paid correctly. And stockings full of switches and coal should go to all those responsible for the wave of debt letters and pay deductions that are worrying our teachers right before Christmas!
5. Staffing Documents - We expect the staffing documents to be in schools before too long. 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.
6. Retiring or Resigning Mid Year? If you are planning to retire or resign during this school year, remember to file and elevate a "goodbye grievance" before your last duty day. After the principal's written response to the grievance or on the 8th day, hand the principal the Step 3 elevation. (The attached grievance process also explains the timeline.) After you have elevated it, be sure to send a copy to Bill Freeman at the address in your calendar and keep copies of everything. Bill has been contacted by numerous retirees who receive debt letters like this -- make sure you invoke your rights before your last day of employment. If you have questions, see your FRS or contact your District Rep.
7. VERA -- FEA continues to ask about VERA (Voluntary Early Retirement Authority) for this year, but we have not received word yet.
8. TSP Catch Up Contributions - Employees are experiencing problems with the Employee Benefits Information System (EBIS) when trying to make TSP Catch-up contribution elections. The IT staff at Headquarters is working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. This is only affecting TSP Catch-up contribution elections. You can continue to make regular TSP elections through EBIS as well as FEHB and/or FEGLI elections/changes.
An email notification will be sent out as soon as the problem is resolved. The problem is expected to be resolved in time for employees to make their TSP Catch-up elections through EBIS and have it effective December 19, 2010.
In the meantime, if you still wish to make your election now, employees can do so by submitting form TSP 1-C directly to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Benefits Team. You may fax the form to 614-693-1674 or email the form to DHRC-DDoDHRBENEFITS@dla.mil. The DLA Benefits Team Line -- 1-866-378-1171 (toll-free) 614-692-0233 (direct dial)
9. Winter Lessons and Activities - The NEA website is constantly updated with new resources. This link takes you to a variety of lesson plans and activities for elementary to high school, including many science related ones: http://www.nea.org/tools/winter-themed-classroom-resources.html
10. Health Resources -- These two sites may be of use for health lessons for your students or for you or your family: www.womenshealth.gov and www.girlshealth.gov. They offer free, reliable health information in English and in Spanish.
11. Coaches' Settlement Deadline - This Friday, December 10, is the deadline for filing claims to seek reimbursement under the settlement agreement between FEA and DoDDS on Association Grievance 08-08.
If you are/were a coach in the FEA's DoDDS bargaining unit between SY 2006-2007 and the effective date of this settlement agreement (November 9, 2010) and had to stay with your team in a hotel, but management rejected your request for reimbursement of hotel expenses or you never submitted your hotel expenses because you were led to believe that you would not be reimbursed for these hotel expenses, you may be eligible to file a claim for back pay, plus interest. You must, however, submit your claim no later than December 10, 2010 -- that's this Friday!
The complete FEA Legal Update on this settlement, including a thorough explanation of who is eligible and a link to the claim form coaches must use to seek reimbursement, can be found at www.feaonline.org.
12. Mark Your Calendars --
December 10 -- Deadline for coaches to submit claims under the recent settlement (See #11)
December 13 -- FEHB Open Season ends
December 17 -- Deadline to mail nominations for FEA Area Directors (See the FEA Journal)
January 7 -- Area JCC
March 2 -- Read Across America
April 30 -- FEA Europe Association Day - Wiesbaden
Once again, let me wish you all the best at this holiday season and in the coming new year. It has been a stressful year for many, but I hope over the break that you will have time to reflect on the great work that you do for our students. As I travel around, I am so impressed with the work I see our members doing. I see great teaching, positive learning environments, and engaged students. There are few educators willing to pack up, leave their families, and head off to foreign lands to teach our military children. You are unique educators and I am very proud to work with you.
All the best to you and yours,
FEA Europe Area Director
0611-44756131 or DSN 335-5373/69