December 3 2012 FEA Pacific Update

DECEMBER 03, 2012
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Area Director Update
FEA Election Notice and Information
FEA Journal
DoDDS-Europe Schools Update
Open Season
Thrift Savings Program (TSP) 2013
DoDDS Reunion
Do You Know your Negotiated Agreement? Article 40.
Learn about Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB)
Legal Eagle Corner -- Your Pay
Mark Your Calendars
Other Tidbits

Area Director Update: Finding it hard to believe that my last update was before my 5-9 November, visit to Korea. It was a great pleasure to visit all the Korea schools. Many of you assisted me in ensuring that I did not get lost, had a place to lay my head, a school visit schedule and making my visit a success. Thanks to Joan Oana, TEAK President, for her tireless assistance before, during and after my visit as well as her willingness to travel with me to CT Joy, our smallest school in the Pacific. Many thanks to the following for assisting me with transportation and billeting: Chad Jimison, Tina Lamontagne, Quinten Russo, Andy McDowell, Nancy Chandler, and Mike and Heather Miano. Thank you, each and every FRS, for making sure that I had a schedule and a place to meet members. Thank you, Tim McDaniel, for providing me an agenda of his members' interests that guided during the general member meetings for the rest of the week. Please forgive me if I omitted your name.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We are now in full holiday swing. It is such a busy time and wonderful opportunity to celebrate our time honored traditions with students, friends and family. Further below you will find a list of various December events and activities.

FEA Election Notice and Information: FEA HQ has announced open nominations and general election procedures for the state officers: President, Vice-President, Secretary/Treasurer, HCRC and NEA Director for FEA. The election packet information has been mailed to your school FRS, District President and Area Director. Information is also in the November FEA Journal and on the FEA website.

FEA Journal: I hope you have had much better luck with the mail delivery of your August and November, FEA Journal, than I this school year. You do have another option to access the FEA Journal. Go to the FEA website: www. Besides the election information, you will find an article by Michael Priser on the use of metrics and DoDEA HQ and HT Nguyen's commentary on DoDEA's disturbing and unproductive trend against educators.

DoDDS-Europe School Update: Thanks to Europe Area Directors Lisa Ali and Alex Veto for sharing the update.
1. The Association requests an update on any closures/consolidations/realignments or construction for DoDDS-E schools projected for this year and beyond. We would especially like an update on the status of Bamberg and Schweinfurt.)

Closing Schools
* Mannheim ES -- Closed June 2012
* Heidelberg HS -- Closed June 2012
* Heidelberg MS -- Closing Junee 2013, on schedule
* Heidelberg MS -- Closing July 2013, on schedule
* Patrick Henry ES -- Closing August 2013, on schedule
* Schweinfurt E/MS -- Closing June 2014
* Schweinfurt HS -- Closing June 2014
* Bamberg ES -- Closing June 2014
* Bamberg M/HS -- Closing June 2014
* Bitberg ES -- Closing June 2017
* Bitburg MS -- Closing June 2013
* Bitburg HS -- Closing June 2017

Expanding Schools
* HH Arnold HS -- SY 12-13, SY 13-14
* Hainerberg ES -- SY 12-13, SY 13-14
* Aukamm ES -- SY 12-13, SY 13-14
* Wiesbaden MS -- SY 12-13, SY 13-14
* Vicenza HS -- SY 12-13, SY 13-14
* Vicenza MS -- SY 12-13, SY 13-14
* Vicenza ES -- SY 12-13, SY 13-14
* Rota ES -- SY 13-14, SY 14-15
* Rota MS/HS -- SY 13-14, SY 14-15
* Lakenheath (all) -- SY 13-14

Changing Schools
* Grafenwoehr ES -- SY 13-14, SY 14-15
* Netzaberg ES -- SY 13-14, SY 14-15
* Netzaberg MS -- SY 13-14, SY 14-15
* Vilseck ES -- SY 13-14, SY 14-15
* Vilseck M/HS -- SY 13-14, SY 14-15
* Baumholder M/HS -- SY 12-13, SY 13-14
* Wetzel ES -- SY 12-13, SY 13-14
* Smith ES -- SY 12-13, SY 13-14
* Spangdahlem ES -- New MILCON to include Bitburg capacity
* Spangdahlem M/HS -- New MILCON to include Bitburg capacity

The schools in Baumholder will continue in their current configuration through SY 2013-2014. Bitburg MS is scheduled to close and the students will be absorbed into other schools within the community. As a result of the Heidelberg Community closing this coming summer, the Heidelberg District Superintendents Office, Heidelberg HS, Heidelberg MS and Patrick Henry ES will close at the end of this school year. The student enrollment in the Bamberg/Schweinfurt communities is expected to draw-down considerably before the beginning of School Year 13-14. DoDDS Europe is currently developing options for the school configurations at both installations. As additional Force Posture/Transformation information is updated, long term school configuration in the European Theater communities will be shared with the FEA.

Open Season: Open Season runs annually in the fall. This year's dates are November 12, 2012, through December 10, 2012. This is your opportunity to change insurance plans and to elect other Federal benefits, such as flexible spending accounts. The Pacific Human Resource Office has sent information to our staffs about Open Season and the most recent was November 2, 2012.

TSP 2013: Guidance from our Pacific HR Office. If you have questions, please contact HR.
  • Annual deferral limit for 2013 is $17,500

  • Catch up limit for 2013 IS $5,500

  • Enter your TSP election in EBIS between Dec. 2 and Dec. 15 in order for the election to be effective in pay period 1 for 2013 (It is recommended that you enter your election by December 14 to be safe; the initial deduction for pay period 1 of 2013 will be in your LES of Jan. 4, 2013.) Contributions are counted toward the calendar year in which the pay is received.
  • If the election is entered from Dec. 16 on, the contribution amount will need to be adjusted if you wish to maximize. To determine the adjusted amount, use the Elective Deferral Calculator on the TSP website

  • If you are electing the $17,500 limit and are on 21 pay periods, your contribution is $834 per check

  • If you are electing the $17,500 limit and are on 26 pay periods, your contribution is $674 per check

  • Catch up contributions - if on 21 pay periods then $262 per check and if on 26 pay periods then $212 per check

  • If contributing a dollar amount, contributions must be in whole dollar amounts

  • EBIS will not accept cents, therefore in order to maximize your contribution, round up to the next dollar amount

  1. Catch up contributions do not need to be maximized. You may contribute from $1 to $5,500 in catch up contributions. The key is that you must contribute the maximum of $17,500 in regular contributions to be eligible to contribute catch up contributions.

  2. You must do an election in EBIS if you are eligible and choose to do catch up contributions. Employees must make a positive election each year for catch-up contributions if they wish to participate.

After logging into EBIS you will use the transactions tab to make your changes. Within 24 hours of making the change in EBIS log back in to your account and verify you have a transaction pending in the TSP window.

It is important to note that if an individual is making catch-up contributions in 2012 and wishes to continue making them in 2013 he or she must go into EBIS and make a new election for 2013. Employees must make a positive election each year for catch-up contributions if they wish to participate.

Additionally because the annual deferral limit has increased to $17,500 for 2013 employees who wish to contribute the maximum must go into EBIS and adjust their current TSP deduction.

  • You can contribute to both your Roth and traditional TSP balances but the total amount of the contributions cannot exceed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) elective deferral limit, which is $17,500 for 2013

  • Roth TSP contributions will be invested in the same fund allocation as traditional TSP contributions.

  • There is no Roth option for Agency Automatic (1%) and Agency Matching Contributions for Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) employees. They are always tax deferred. Roth TSP contributions are added to traditional TSP contributions when determining the percentage of pay being contributed for purposes of the Agency Matching Contribution formula.

  • If you are currently making traditional TSP contributions and also want to make Roth TSP contributions you must make a new election.

  • In order for Roth TSP earnings to be tax free you must make your withdrawal at least 5 years after the beginning of the year in which you made your first Roth contribution.

DoDDS Reunion: Each summer there is a gathering of former and current DoDDS folks. The reunion will be held in Dallas, Texas at the Marriot City Center, July 18-21. For registration information:

Do You Know your Negotiated Agreement? Article 40 -- Disability Retirement:

Section 1.
Disability retirement is a benefit provided to protect the unit employee who is no longer employable in his/her position at the current grade or pay level because of a service deficiency caused by disease or injury. When there is a basis for removing the unit employee from his/her position through separation because of such a medical condition, the unit employee should consider filing for disability retirement.

Section 2.
The employee's application for disability retirement will be processed by the Employer in accordance with applicable Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations.

Section 3.
Generally, the interests of both the Employer and employee are served if the unit employee remains on duty when he/she can provide useful and efficient service without endangering himself/herself, others, or Government property. The Employer shall consider an employee's request for appropriate leave pending a determination on the employee's application for disability retirement.

Section 4.
When a unit employee states an intent to submit an application for disability retirement, the Employer shall assist the unit employee in obtaining information about the disability retirement program under the Civil Service Retirement System or the Federal Employees Retirement System, as appropriate.

Learn about your Federal Employee Health Benefits: Open Season is upon us. An American Foreign Services Protection Agency (AFSPA) representative will be visiting your complex in the near future. This is your opportunity to learn about your benefits and any upcoming changes for 2013. The visits are scheduled for November. Contact your FRS or District President for a visit in your area.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner: Michael Bauernfeind and UniServ Assistant, Stephanie Trotter, are currently in Washington, D.C. this week. They are presenting a case for our retired teachers that have received debt notices either a number of years after retiring and/or the debts are incorrect. Please wish them well on behalf of our retired teachers and the rest of us that are receiving debt notices.

Mark Your Calendars
Books Across America Month -(see School Tube video).
December 3-7 Inclusive Schools Week
December 9-15 Computer Science Education Week
December 7 Pearl Harbor Day See Remembering Pearl Harbor on the National Geographic website.
December 10 Human Rights DayLearn more about Human Rights Day. See also the United Nations Human Rights website.
December 15 Bill of Rights Adoption Day For resources, see Bill of Rights Institute.
December 16 Boston Tea Party Anniversary See the Boston Tea Party Historical Society.
December 17 Anniversary of Wright Brothers' Flight See the Library of Congress' Wright Brothers page for teaching resources.
December 8-16 Hanukkah See Chanukah resources.
December 21 Winter Solstice
December 25 Christmas
December 26 Disbanding of Soviet Union
December 26-January 1 Kwanzaa
December 31 New Year's Eve

For more information about any of these events, go to NEA's Calendar of Events


NEH Summer Programs in the Humanities for School Educators (most offered with college credit and $$)
These seminars and institutes are offered by NEH -- not DoDEA. Thank to Brian Chance, NEA Director for FEA for the following information.
  • Most of these summer institutes have an application suspense date of March 4, 2013. Plan ahead for the application as the process may require gathering information and recommendations prior to the suspense date.

  • Most of the programs will offer college credit at the expense of the participant.

  • There are stipends tied to institutes based on the length of the institute.

  • The detailed information is available on the web page for the individual institute.

Get more information on these programs here

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to this page.

Until the next update,

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director