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November 2 2010 FEA Pacific Update

NOVEMBER 2, 2010
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director


Area Director Update
NEA Mid-Atlantic Minority Leadership Training Delegates
DoDEA Customer Survey
Far East Activities Evaluations
NEA Health Information Network
FEHB Open Season -- Learn about changes
Reminders
Legal Eagle Corner --
Mark Your Calendars
Other Tidbits


Area Director Update: The end of the first quarter for school year 2010-11 is 4 November. I know that you are working diligently to finish projects, enter grades and prepare for Parent/Teacher Conferences. During this busy time please remember to take some time to breathe, relax and appreciate the moment.
Since the last Pacific Update, I attended the FEA Board of Directors Meeting (October 18-22). Last week Joint Consultations were held with Ms. Ohman and Dr. Lutrey. I then attended the Pacific Area Advisory Council on October 29. The BOD meetings were intense and productive. Board members were able to meet and talk with Acting DoDEA Director, Marilee Fitzgerald, via video-teleconference. It would be extremely difficult to recount the entire week within this update. You will however, receive information from various reports to your FRS, District Presidents as well as the FEA President's Newsletter. Consultations with Ms. Ohman and Dr. Lutrey were productive and you will be receiving the minutes in the near future. The Area Advisory Council meeting was well attended as the various representatives had a chance to state issues, ask questions and share. It is always a pleasure to hear parents praising DoDDS and its teachers. Now it is catch up time with the email traffic, planning school visits and leadership training.
DoDDS teachers rock!

Upcoming AD Activities:

November 13 Leadership Training at Yokota Complex
November 16-18 Okinawa School Visits and AEAO Council Meeting
November 20 NEATA Board Meeting
December 4 Leadership Training Location TBD

NEA Mid-Atlantic Minority Leadership Training: Mimi Cuadrado, FEA Human and Civil Rights Coordinator is looking for interested members to serve as delegates to the Mid-Atlantic Conference in January 2011. The conferences will be held in Washington, D.C. and expenses are funded by NEA. One delegate is designated for the NEA Minority Leadership Training Conference (MLT), which will be held January 26-28. It is a two year commitment and the delegate will also attend the Mid-Atlantic Region Leadership Conference (MARLC), January 28-30. The other delegate is for the Women's Leadership Training Conference, January 28-30. This delegate will also attend the MARLC. Please note that Ms. Cuadrado is considering interested members from DDESS, Europe and the Pacific. There is a short suspense date, so please notify me if you are interested.

DoDEA Customer Survey: The DoDEA Customer Survey announcement sent to the schools is for parents and students. FEA is working with DODEA to protect teacher confidentiality, which might be an issue when the surveys are tabulated. The survey is an Office of Personnel Management requirement.

Far East Activities Evaluations: The Association recently learned that the Pacific Area Office is sending online evaluations to teachers participating in Far East Activities. Please be aware the Association has not seen or approved the evaluations as of this date.

FEHB: If you want to learn about changes in Federal Employee Health Benefits insurance, American Foreign Service Protective Association representatives will be the Pacific Area in the near future. Find out the latest. Check with your FRS for the date and location. The FEHB Open Season runs from November 8 through December 13, 2010. This is the time during which employees can enroll in the FSAFEDS Program for the 2011 Benefit Period. FSAFEDS is an account where you contribute money from your salary BEFORE taxes are withheld then get reimbursed for your out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses. Current enrollees MUST re-enroll if they wish to participate in the 2011 Benefit Period. Enrollments DO NOT carry over year-to-year.

REMINDERS:
FEA Representative Volunteer Application: I have sent the application form to your FRS. If you are interested, please check with your FRS. We are asked many times to nominate teachers to represent the Association on task forces, workshops and other meeting that touch on working conditions. Let us know. As a member you are the Association.

Professional Growth Plan: Soon you will be requested to submit your PGP to your principal. If you have questions, please check with your FRS. Remember the PGP is your plan.

Sure Start Surveys: If you haven't submitted your SS survey, it isn't too late. I will be sending them to Ms. Trotter, Pacific Assistant UniServ, to collate in the near future.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner:

1. FEGLI In a recent inquiry a member wanted to know how he could take advantage of the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance program. When he got married he did not use this major life event change to open up FEGLI adding his wife as beneficiary. The last Open Season was in 2005, not exactly a routine occurrence it appears. The Office of Personnel Management is not announcing another Open Season anytime soon. There is another option available. The member can obtain a physical examination at his own cost and provide the results to FEGLI. Based on the results he would be allowed to enroll in the life insurance program. The wife can then be listed as the beneficiary. Use Standard Form 2822 to begin the process.

2. CSRS VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS Increasingly, there are fewer and fewer members who are part of the Civil Service Retirement System. During the Reagan Administration, Federal Employees Retirement System replaced CSRS. FERS is based on Social Security and the stock market. CSRS is a defined benefit retirement system. The payout is certain. FERS became mandatory on 1 January 1997. One benefit available to CSRS members is that they are able to invest an amount equal to up to 10 percent of their career federal basic pay in such accounts, where the money earns interest tax-deferred until withdrawn. Withdrawals are allowed either as lump-sums at any time or as annuities at retirement. Although the voluntary contributions program has existed for many years, it seems that CSRS members are unaware of it. Also, there is a degree of confusion with the Thrift Savings Plan. Both the Voluntary Contributions system and TSP are available to CSRS members. In fact, the two programs are separate and participation in one does not affect the other. To open a VC account, file Standard Form 2804.

3. APPOINTMENT NOMENCLATURE There is perennial confusion over appointment nomenclature within DODDS. If you are in your third year of employment with DODDS you are a "permanent" teacher with all of the due process safeguards that come to any federal employee who has successfully completed a probationary period, sometimes referred to an a trial period. What are the safeguards? You cannot be fired unless the process complies with Article 13 of our union contract. Article 13 parallels federal personnel laws that are enforced by the Merit Systems Protection Board. When I went to school it was still called the Civil Service Commission.

So, once you have successfully passed the trial period of two calendar years you have full and complete "Board" rights. You cannot be fired without receiving procedural protection -- notice, right to information about your proposed removal and right to a hearing before an administrative law judge. Arbitration under the negotiated grievance procedure is also an option.

DODDS teachers are in the Excepted Service. We are not General Schedule. There are many other distinctions, but teachers, lawyers, scientists and other professionals in the Government are typically in the Excepted Service because they are expected to complete a mission as opposed to punching a time clock.

For all intents and purposes, once you have served 2 calendar years successfully as a probationary teacher you are "permanent". This is the bottom line. Certain veterans who have earned a campaign badge or are disabled need only serve a one year probation. During probation you can be fired for your personality, your attitude or any other non-discriminatory reason. This is because you do not have "Board" rights during the first two calendar years of federal employment.

Locally hired teachers receive term appointments in the Excepted Service. In other words their appointments expire automatically after two years. Many times the appointment expires at the end of the military sponsor's DEROS date. This is the date of expected rotation to some other duty assignment. Just keep in mind that, with the exception of certain vets everyone, regardless of where or when hired, everyone must complete two years of probation. Thereafter, if not discharged or fired or not rehired, those teachers are permanent educators.

Certain rules have been established to cover Reduction in Force actions. If Korea closes this next year, what would happen to all of the teachers? The school system could not absorb all of those excess teachers. A RIF would be declared and statutory rules would be applied. The lowest tenure status would be for probationary teachers. The next step up would be for career conditional teachers, those who have not yet completed THREE successful years of employment. The next step up would be those teachers who were converted automatically to career status beginning in the fourth year of employment. Then retention would be by service computation date. RIF laws are very strict. This explains the various categories of career conditional and career appointment status.

Not to worry, the last RIF in DODDS was in the 1980's when the school system decided that school sociologists were no longer needed. At one time all sociologists were excessed.

We tend to confuse another concept. That is the difference between probationary and provisional teachers. Probation refers to an appointment type. Provisional is the term used in the performance evaluation system. The terms are not synonymous, but the same people are involved in both situations and the length of time involved is the same.

Bottom line: If you have passed your probation successfully you have Board rights and that is all you need worry about!

Mark Your Calendars:

FEHB Open Season November 8- December 13
Daylight Savings Time ends in States November 7
Veterans Day November 11
American Education Week November 14-20
Thanksgiving November 25

Other Tidbits

NEA Health Information Network: Did you know there are a number of vaccines recommended for adults? Did you know that the viral disease known as shingles is increasing for older adults? Did you know that even though tetanus is rare in the U.S. adults over the age of 50 accounts for 70 percent of tetanus infections? To learn more visit www.neahin.org

Computer Safety Website: NEA supports the organization "bNetS@vvy". It is an organization offering trusted one-shop stop for information, tools and links to high-quality resources helping young teens stay safe online. www.bnetsavvy.org

Federal Retirement Website: FEA Europe Area Director Chuck McCarter shared the following website with me. I checked it out and subscribed for their newsletters. http://www.myfederalretirement.com/public/709.cfm

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to https://webapps.dodea.edu/lqarates/lqarates.cfm

Until the next update,

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director
DSN 267-6159 / 042-869-6159
81-42-869-6159