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November 26 2008 FEA Pacific Update

NOVEMBER 26, 2008

Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Upcoming: 30 November - 5 December -Your district presidents and I will be attending the Administrators Conference at the New Sanno, Tokyo. We expect to hear more about the direction our new DoDEA Director has in store for our system. We know rumors are flying and angst is in the air. Be assured the Association is listening, watching, and determining what actions need to be taken. As always, we ask you to keep your FRS and district leaders apprised of what is happening at your school.

5-7 December -- This year the PAL decided to hold our midyear PAL Council Meeting in December rather than the planned February meeting. We will hold our meeting in Tokyo after the administrators' conference.

Due to our travels in the upcoming week, we ask that you understand there may be some delays in responding to your emails. If there is an emergency, please contact our Uniserv, Michael Bauernfeind. You can also call the New Sanno and leave a message. Remember, contact information is in the handy dandy FEA pocket calendar!

Thanksgiving: When I ruminate about Thanksgiving, it is humbling as I count my many blessings as an American and an educator. I wish for you and your family a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

ESL Task Force: The ESL Task Force will convene 9-11 December in Arlington, Virginia, to revise the PK-12 English language proficiency standards and develop sample performance indicators. The FEA Representative is Tracy Rowe. Please contact her if you would like to provide input.

EXCENT Online: EXCENT continues to be the program that keeps on giving but not what you need. We continue to work with the Area Office, and they are making efforts to assist the Sped Departments as much as possible. FEA HQ continues to work with DoDEA HQ and there has been acknowledgement by Dr. Miles the program is not functioning appropriately. The system is expected to be fully functioning at the end of the semester, but I'm not counting the eggs yet. Training has been approved and the Area Office wants to wait until the system is fixed. Area has also offered more EDC hours to allow one person to enter data for Sped personnel. Continue to work with your FRS and keep us informed.

Congratulations: A hearty congratulations to Darby Elementary School and FRS, Laverne Outen. Darby has met the Plus One goal!

LQA Reimbursement Options: In 2003 the Association was able to confirm for its members that agent and landlord fees could be reimbursed in three different ways. The reimbursement can be amortized over a one calendar year period in equal payments every pay period. The educator can borrow an amount of money equal to the agent and landlord fees from an American bank and then claim the total amount of interest paid on the loan or the educator can request that the Government advance the entire amount upfront for payment to the real estate agent of his finders fees an to the landlord as an appreciation fee or "thank you" money.

If you want the fees to be paid to you in a lump sum, then here is how it is done according to DODDS Human Resources:

The Federal Labor Relations Authority is the organization that enforces labor laws by investigating and deciding remedies when Unfair Labor Practice charges are filed. The FLRA is composed of three members. There can be no more that two adherents to the same political party. Decisions can only be issued when two members of the panel agree.

Last summer the Chairperson Dale Cabaniss resigned. At that point there was already a vacancy, which President Bush did not fill. With the resignation, it left only one member of the panel, a Clinton appointment, Carol Pope. This meant that no decisions of any kind could be made by the FLRA regarding ULP charges.

In early October the Senate confirmed a Bush nominee, Thomas Beck, as the Chairperson. This now means that decisions can be issued. However, any decision requires two affirmative votes. This means that any controversial ULP will not even be decided, because a decision requires two like votes. The failure of the Bush Administration to make FLRA appointments has stagnated the workings of the FLRA for many years.

With a new President we should see an invigorated FLRA and more assertive protection of labor organization rights. We are hoping that ULP charges will be treated more seriously and fairly under the new administration.

Other Information:

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). Get more information here.

Yen and Korean Rates: To check the rates go to this page. Thanks to Xavier Flores, NEATA President for this website. Also attached is a daily yen rates chart.

Early Notification Incentive: Dr. Miles has announced DoDEA will once again provide a $500 award, certificate and paperweight if you notify DoDEA by January 6, 2009. Please consider this offer as it also helps your colleagues in the transfer program and the continued effects of the drawdown.

Important Reminder: You MUST re-enroll in FSAFEDS (Flexible Spending Account Program) each year to continue your participation. The Federal Benefits Open Season begins Monday, November 10 and ends on Monday, December 8. Don't forget to enroll! For further information go to the FSAFEDS Web site. Thanks to our NEA Director for FEA, Trudy Pollard for this reminder. Open Season for FEHB will be November 10 -- December 8. FEHB information page.

Thrift Savings Plan Election -- Get information here.

IRS contribution limits for 2009 -- For 2009, the IRS permits you to contribute up to $16,500 in tax-deferred money to the TSP. If you will be age 50 or older during 2009, you may also contribute up to $5,500 in additional "catch-up" contributions if your regular contributions for the year reach the $16,500 limit.

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

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.

The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence: The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession. They honor public education and the dedicated members of the National Education Association (NEA). The nomination packet for the next round of The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence is now available. Please note that the nomination deadline is May 1, 2009. Plan ahead as this takes some time to complete. To access the guidelines and all the files, please click here. http://www.neafoundation.org/teacherexcel/index.htm

Area Director Activities: Since the last update, much has transpired for you as educators in the DoDEA system and of course that means the FEA leaders have been kept busy. Last week, November 19, I met with Dr. Bresell at the Pacific Director's Office for our first Joint Cooperation Committee meeting. During my time in Okinawa I visited eight schools and attended AEAO's council meeting. It was a treat to watch the educators in action, tour facilities and meet individual educators. Thanks to all that volunteered their valuable time to make sure I was routed from school to school and a special thank you to Melanie Horton, AEAO President and Logistics Master.

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