January 28 2009 FEA Pacific Update

JANUARY 28, 2009
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Area Director: You now have half the school year under your belt. Congratulate yourself, your students, and your peers for a job well-done during such topsy-turvy times. In the last update, I forgot to report that your Board of Directors held a teleconference for the first time on Saturday, January 10, 2008. The time zones ranged from 7 AM Eastern Standard time to 9 PM Japan time. Your Pacific BOD members discussed your concerns and issues with the board until 11 PM.

Staffing/Manpower Documents: The staffing documents have been released to the schools. Please note that staffing documents are living documents in the sense that they often change. Your administrator and FRS should be working together to determine any impact on your school such as EXCESS. Please work with your FRS if you have any questions or concerns.

Transfer Program: As I write there has been no official notification from FEA or DODEA when the Transfer Program will be released. Be assured that the program will be released soon. Please read the information carefully. Our members can access ‘Tips for Transfers' via when the tips are posted.

This is a time of questions, projections, and personal reflection and decisions for many of you. FEA will assist you as much as possible. An example of questions coming from members concerns a probationary question when moving between DoDDS and DDESS. TEAK President, Betty Gossett researched and provided this information:
Article 9, Section 3.b. of the FEA Stateside/DDess Master Labor Agreement provides:

"Newly hired permanent employees, with prior service in DDESS or DoDDS systems who have successfully completed a probationary period of at least one year, will not have to complete another probationary period."

Be careful on the following situation, however:

If a permanent DoDDS teacher applies for a TEMPORARY (Not-To Exceed) position at DDESS, that position will disappear and the teacher will no longer have a job, even though the teacher had a permanent status with DoDDS. In other words, the mere fact that a permanent employee occupies a temporary position with DDESS does not transform the position from temporary to permanent. If the position goes away, so will the employee. Bottom line: Permanent DoDDS teachers should not accept temporary positions with DDESS.

Retirement Briefings: The Pacific District Office Human Resource folks have been making their rounds in the three districts to meet with individuals and group presentations for the both the CSRS and FERS Retirement programs. I had the pleasure of attending both sessions, and I cannot express how beneficial these briefings are for new, experienced, considering retiring, and retiring educators. If the retirement briefing hasn't been held at your school or complex yet, please make plans to attend. Many thanks go to Dr. Bresell for supporting these visits during the ‘money-crunch' times.

W-2 and Tax Time: You can access your W-2 and 1099 on MyPay.

Pacific Assistant Principals' Conference: 25-30 January, 2009. The AP conference is being held this week. I neglected to mention in the last update that Japan's Teacher of the Year and FEA member, Deidre Mac, is also attending the conference as an honored guest.

Pacific Area Leaders (PAL) Council: 21-23 February. The meeting will be held in Tokyo.

EXCENT: The latest information received is that the Progress Reports should be running and printing.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner

BLAST FROM THE PAST -- The following article appeared in the Stars and Stripes on 25 September 1966:
An Overseas Education Association meeting got off to a lively start Saturday when four Kaiserslautern teachers were taken by military police for questioning after refusing to stop a pay protest demonstration at the entrance to the dependent high school here.

The meeting was the annual fall assembly at which the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Education Lynn Bartlett explained the impact of temporary Congressional dissent over school funding that threatens an expected teacher pay raise.

Taken into custody for questioning at the District MP station but released an hour later after tempers cooled over coffee and doughnuts -- then driven back to the meeting -- were Fred Clarke, Allen Kruegger, William Mara and Hudson Workman, all of Kaiserslautern High School.

Pay and pay problems remain hot issues even after 43 years.

GRIEVANCE PROCESSING -- Please remember that if you file a grievance and do not send a copy to the Area Director of the UNISERV Attorney from your area we will not be able to monitor the processing of the grievance. Without your help we only receive a copy of the grievance when the final decision is issued. This might take a year or more.

PHILOSOPHY - In 1979 the President of the union was Lynn Holland. In later years she was promoted to management as a principal. Hanging in her office was a poster with the following observation:
The society, which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy, because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water!

EXTRAORDINARY QUARTERS ALLOWANCE - The Department of State authorizes an Extraordinary Quarters Allowance for those circumstances that might require a teacher and family to vacate Government quarters during an involuntary renovation. The allowance covers the cost of temporary lodging up to 90 days and also provides for a flat meal rate. This allowance is also applicable to unhealthy or dangerous conditions that might exist requiring the family to move out of quarters.

Other Information:

Belated Enrollment for FEHB, FEDVIP and FSAFEDS: You will have an extended opportunity to make any enrollment changes in these programs through January 2009. Belated FEHB changes will take effect on or after January 1, 2009. Belated FSAFEDS changes will take effect on January 1, 2009, or the day after the change is received.

NEA Complimentary Life Insurance (formerly known as NEA DUES-TAB)No-Cost, automatic coverage for all eligible members All eligible members can take advantage of the valuable, automatic term life insurance coverage provided by NEA Complimentary Life Insurance. All you have to do is register your beneficiary and you're covered so don't wait, do it now!

Summer Course Offering: The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the Federal Government. Each year the NEH's Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study humanities topics in a variety of Summer Seminars and Institutes. The dates and duration of each project are listed under each title. The application deadline is March 2, 2009 (postmark). Go to the NEH Web site.

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to this Web site. Thanks to Xavier Flores, NEATA President for this website.

NEA's Read Across America: It's never too early to begin planning for this event. NEA's Read Across America site.

NEA launched the Read Across America program in 1997. The nationwide reading celebration takes place each year on or near March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss, who epitomizes a love of learning. Dr. Seuss's use of rhyme makes his books an effective tool for teaching young children the basic skills they need to be successful.

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director
DSN 315-267-6159