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September 3 2010 FEA Pacific Update

SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Youkoso! Hwanyonghamnida! Welcome!
Area Director Update
FEA Pacific Structure
Two Year Interview
Check the FEA Website
LES and SF50
Salary Organizer
Legal Eagle Corner --
Mark Your Calendars
Other Tidbits


Welcome New and Returning DoDDS Pacific Educators: This is probably the one hundredth or so welcome you have read or heard for this new 2010-2001 School Year. We are a friendly bunch in the Pacific. You have started your engines and completed the first week with students. I hope for you and our students the best year ever. Best wishes for a great Labor Day Holiday.

Area Director Update: FEA leadership and FEA members have been active over the summer. June 30 -- July 1, FEA held its annual membership meeting in New Orleans. After the membership meeting, FEA delegates attended the National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly, July 2-6. T he Pacific was well represented. Check out the FEA Journal sent in August for more about the RA. Afterwards, it was time to take a break. I did attend the Aspen Sped Pilot Training at Quantico MS/HS. Some of the DDESS sites are piloting the Aspen Sped Program this year. The program has potential, but it was not ready yet ready for implementation. In early August, the FEA Board of Directors held a teleconference. Because of the time zone difference, some of us were up at 7 AM on a Sunday morning and some had to be by their phones at 9 PM Sunday night.

New Leadership - We are excited to be working with the new DoDEA Director, Marilee Fitzgerald, and we look forward to a more positive working relationship.

Busy, busy, busy. The fall is one of the busiest times for FEA leadership as each Area conducts Fall Training. Michael Priser, FEA President, HT Nguyen, FEA Executive Director/General Counsel, Gary Hritz, FEA Director of Communications & Membership Development, our very own Michael Bauernfeind, FEA Pacific General Counsel/UniServ and I will be conducting the FRS Training. We will also conduct the Joint Labor Management Training with Pacific Area Office personnel. Thanks to Ms. Diana Ohman, Pacific DODEA Director for continuing to support the JLMT with principals and FRSs. After the Fall Training, the FEA Board of Directors will meet in Washington. Here is the calendar of activity through October:

Upcoming AD Activities:

September 11 NEATA Meeting - New Sanno
Sept. 30 -- October 2 Japan FRS & JLMT Training and NEATA Meeting - New Sanno
October 4-5 Okinawa FRS & JLMT Training - Camp Foster
October 7-9 Korea FRS & JLMT Training & TEAK Meeting - Yongsan Base/Seoul
October 9-11 Pacific Area Leadership (PAL) Council Meeting -Yongsan/Seoul
October 12 Visit Casey ES, Camp Casey
October 18-22 FEA Board of Directors Meeting - Washington, D.C.
October 29 Pacific Area Advisory Council -- New Sanno

FEA Pacific Structure: The FEA pocket calendar contains a wealth of information about your organization. You will find the FEA leaders, their contact information as well as a pay organizer, salary schedule, important regulations, upcoming school calendar dates and what to do in cases of child abuse and your right to representation.

* Faculty Representative Spokesperson (FRS) - The FRS is your first and most important contact. If you have a concern that needs to be elevated, please go through your FRS.
* District President -- The District President works with the District Superintendent and your FRS. When needed, the District President elevates issues to the Pacific Area Director. Japan/NEATA President is Jeannette Ferguson; Korea/TEAK President is Bill Riggs and Okinawa/AEAO President is Melanie Horton.
* Pacific Area Director -- The Pacific Area Director, Debra Degalis, works with Ms. Diana Ohman, Director, DoDEA Pacific. The Area Director works closely with the Pacific General Counsel/UniServ, Michael Bauernfeind. Unlike stateside organizations, FEA UniServs are attorneys.
* FEA Washington Headquarters and FEA Board of Directors --The FEA President, Michael Priser, works with the DoDEA Director, Ms. Marilee Fitzgerald. Michael is lucky to have an experienced staff in Washington. The Executive Director/General Counsel is H.T. Nguyen. The board is made up of the FEA president, Vice-President (Betty Lou Cummins), Secretary/Treasurer (Anita Lang), NEA Director for FEA (Brian Chance), Human and Civil Rights Coordinator (Noemi "Mimi" Cuadrado), the Europe Area Directors (Chuck McCarter & Alex Veto) , Pacific Area Director and Stateside Area Director (Teri Arvidson).

Two Year Interview: Each year new, enthusiastic educators are hired locally or arrive from the States in the Pacific Area. These new educators are considered probationary teachers. I ask that you work with your FRS to help you navigate the intricacies of DoDDS. The FEA is alone among other education associations in offering assistance in almost every aspect of life overseas. The best advice I can offer you is simple. Consider your first two years as an interview and join FEA!

Check the FEA Website: The FEA website (www.feaonline.org) has a wealth of information. Remember to have your membership ID ready in order to access information for members only. You will find your ID number on membership card. If you are a new member, ask your FRS to contact FEA for an ID number.

LES and SF50: You have probably seen the notification that DFAS made an error with some educators pay by changing their pay from 26 to 21 period pay. I received a report that one educator's sick days had been decreased by 10 days. It is vital that you carefully check your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) each pay period and we strongly urge you to utilize one of the pay organizers we offer. You have one in your handy dandy FEA pocket calendar and I have attached an excel format pay organizer too. It is also vital that you review AND save your SF-50s (Standard Personnel Form). Your school secretary/payroll clerk should have given you your most updated SF-50 by now. More about what is on your LES and SF50 in a later update. If you have pay issues, please contact your FRS immediately, so we can get Michael Bauernfeind and Assistant UNISERV Stephanie Trotter involved.

Salary Organizer: Attached is an electronic organizer sent by Gary Hritz. Earlier I sent a message to the FRSs courtesy of Brian Chance with information to assist you if you had a pay problem. The pay organizers can be a valuable time saver as the federal bureaucracy can be truly a nightmare for DoDDS teachers.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner

Check out the theme song for "Come September" performed by Bobby Daren. Here is the Internet link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKq-2kldJIY.

1. Educators in the Federal Employees Retirement System now are able to avoid a complete loss of educator leave upon retirement. With passage of a statutory change, FERS employees are able to receive limited credit for unused educator leave. Here is how it works:

When you retire, your educator leave balance is reduced by 50%. Then, for each 348 hours of leave, one month is added to your service time. Beginning in 2014, the hours will no longer be reduced by half; instead, you will be credited at the rate of one month for 174 hours. This certainly is not the golden watch or handshake you expected at retirement. But, progress is being made.

2. Do you want to hear a horror story? Actually, there are many. Just talk to your colleagues and retired DODDS friends. With the transfer of function last October to Defense Logistics Agency, debt notices are flowing out to the Pacific. We have received notices from Defense Finance and Accounting Service that claim overpayments of pay and entitlements back as far as 1999! The more tragic situations are those of retired members who are living on fixed incomes and who have long since thrown away Leave and Earnings Statements and other documentation. Refuting a claimed overpayment from ten years ago is a daunting task. We are in the process of coordinating with the Washington office our challenge strategy. If you receive a debt notice allow us to review the circumstances. In some cases, the debt is a valid overpayment of pay and allowances. In other situations the amounts are incorrect. If correct, many times the overpayment was due to error on the part of DODDS HR staff. In these situations we can assist you in filing a waiver claim. This is complicated. You need legal assistance before filing. Your dues pay for experienced legal services.

3. Responding to a question from a member recently, I learned that DODEA has an open ended application process with DDESS. There is an acknowledgement that many DODDS educators need to return to the United States to continue their teaching. Parents need care as they age. Children may need direct assistance as they return for college in the States. There are many reasons that support a switch from DODDS to DDESS. You may apply for any DDESS vacancy. If selected and if DODDS will release you, you have a new DDESS job. The trick is obtaining a release. This will depend upon whether there are qualified, locally available applicants to back fill your position or not. The more specialized your assignment, the more unlikely it is that you will be released at the end of the school year to accept a DDESS position.

Mark Your Calendars

Check the AD Activities for FEA leader visits in your area.
September 6 -- Labor Day
September 8 -- International Literacy Day
September 11- Day of Remembrance/Patriot Day
September 12 -- Grandparents Day
September 15 -- Hispanic Heritage Month (until 10/15)
September 16 -- International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

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