September 25 2013 FEA Europe Update
1. On Our Way
2. Area Directors' Travels
3. American Foreign Services
4. OPM Open Season
5. Tomodachi Registry Information
6. Mileage Rates
7. FRS Training
9. National Hispanic Heritage Month
10. Mark Your Calendars
11. Area JCC
12. Pay Problem Package
14. Article 51
15. HCR Contacts
1. On Our Way -- Well, we are now about half way through the first quarter of the school year and most of us are settling in to the routines that will take us the rest of the way. While there have been some isolated problems and concerns so far it has generally been a good start. However, always remain vigilant. I think most of us know that it doesn't take much to turn a good year in to a bad one. Be aware of your FEA representatives, your FEA Attorneys, and that little card inside the front cover of your FEA calendar, your Weingarten Rights. Armed with these tools I feel certain that you all will continue to have a good year.
2. Area Directors' Travels -- Both Lisa and I have been very busy recently, having taken part in 4 FRS trainings, an Area JCC, as well as attending the European Area Council. For me, this week will be spent close to home. On October 1, I will visit Grafenwohr ES. Sometime early next month I will begin visiting more schools as well.
3. American Foreign Services -- The American Foreign Services Protective Association will be traveling through Europe in the coming months to give presentations on the various insurance packages that they offer. While this is a very good company please be aware that there are other quality insurers that also will be visiting during the year. FEA will alert you when we get their plans. Attached is the revised schedule of visits for the AFSPA.
4. 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 11, 2013 through December 9, 2013.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.
5. Tomodachi Registry Information - The attached memo provides information about the Department of Defense (DoD) registry for employees who may have been exposed to high and/or unsafe levels of radiation as a result of the earthquake that occurred in Japan in March 2011. Additionally, the memo also provides guidance to employees for submitting claims if they have been injured as a result of exposure to hazardous conditions. Please see the attached memo for additional information.
6. Mileage Rates -- The current mileage rates as set by the U.S. General Services Administration are as follows:
Automobile: If use of privately-owned automobile is authorized or if no Government owned automobile is available - $.565
If Government owned automobile is available $.24
7. FRS Training -- As mentioned earlier, there were 4 different FRS/Contract Training meetings over the last 12 days. They were held in places stretching from Ansbach to Lakenheath. By all accounts these meetings were all very successful by any measuring stick. I would especially like to thank all those who participated, as well as all those who contributed as trainers. Special thanks to Ben Hunter, Jan and Bill Freeman, and Chuck McCarter who flew in from the States to provide our FRS's with a wealth of knowledge.
8. Homecoming -- Many of us would like to be able to attend the annual Homecoming events held at high schools from which we graduated but of course that is virtually impossible. However, there is a great alternative. All of the high schools here in Europe have Homecoming events scheduled in which you can take part. There is of course the football game but generally all sports teams are scheduled to be at home during this weekend and they would all love your support. In addition, there are pep rallies, bon fires, fests, etc. as well as the sporting events. Contact your local HS for more information so that you can enjoy a very American tradition.
9. National Hispanic Heritage Month - Each year from September 15 through October 15, we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. The date of September 15 was selected as it is the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. This month-long celebration is designated to help celebrate the rich heritage and cultural diversity that Hispanic Americans have contributed to our country. The theme for this year's National Hispanic Heritage Month is "Hispanics: Serving and Leading our Nation with Pride and Honor." For more, visit this site
10. Mark Your Calendars --
September 21 -- October 6 -- Oktoberfest (Munich)
September 15 -- October 16 -- National Hispanic Heritage Month
October 14 -- Columbus Day
11. Area JCC -- Attached are the minutes from the September 18 Area JCC held in Wiesbaden.
12. Pay Problem Package -- I included this in my last update but I am doing so again since Bill Freeman has subsequently sent us a new packet that contains some changes. (attached) Also, Lisa's suggestion to always check with the POC at your school is extremely good advice. It came to my attention last week that some individuals had not received this packet so I am sending it yet again. Bill has sent this packet out so that it cannot be filled out online. To quote Bill, "Don't mess with my forms!"
13. Update - The next update is scheduled to be Lisa's on October 2. I will be back on October 9. Please know that if there is any breaking news that we will get it out immediately. Also, remember to check www.feaonline.org for the latest.
14. Article 51 - As we near the end of the first quarter, we often receive questions about grades and grade policies. Article 51, cited below, may be helpful!
ARTICLE 51 - PUPIL GRADES
Section 1. A unit employee may establish his/her own grading system. In such cases, the unit employee is responsible for translating the grading system to the Employer's. The unit employee's record of grades shall contain a key for translating his/her system to the established grading system in use.
Section 2. Students' grades may be requested for review and approval by the Employer before grade reports are distributed to students or parents.
Section 3. In the event that any grade is challenged, the unit employee shall explain and justify the grade assigned.
Section 4. If the Employer takes action to change a student's grade without the consent of the affected unit employee or directs the unit employee to change a grade, a written statement from the Employer shall be provided to the unit employee, stating that the change in grade and/or the passing or failing of the student was done at the discretion of the Employer
15. HCR Contacts - One FEA Building HCR contact for each school needs to be identified by October 1st. The following is excerpted from the 2011 FEA Ethnic-Minority Compliance Plan and explain the duties of the Building HCR contact:
Assist efforts of the area and district to identify ethnic minority members.
Encourage ethnic minority members to become actively involved in local Association activities, such as JCC committees and to run for office.
Make special efforts to inform ethnic minority members in the local of the NEA RA delegate election process and encourage them to run for such positions.
Recommend the purchase of multi-cultural materials through the annual school budget process.
Encourage the allocation of funds towards increasing ethnic minority involvement in Association activities.
Perform other activities deemed necessary to advance the cause of ethnic minority involvement and interests.
Disseminate correspondence from the minority training program.
If you are interested in serving as the HCR contact for your school, please contact your FRS and/or your District HCR Coordinator. Please ask if you have any questions about how to put this into action at your school!
(Thanks to Linda-Ware Brown, FEA European Area HCR Coordinator)
FEA Europe Area Director
Tel: 0160 2388051