January 14 2019 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: January 14, 2019
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Let me start by wishing you a very happy, healthy New Year. I hope your winter break was as exciting or relaxing as you hoped for.
OUR NEA FAMILY
As federal employees, we are very lucky not to be impacted by the shutdown which has left agencies closed and thousands of federal workers without paychecks. Since the shutdown has begun, other State Association Presidents and even members have reached out to me with messages of concern, wanting to know if we were being paid and if our schools remain open. One individual member even offered to donate if a fund was set up to help if our members were going without pay! It is wonderful that our NEA family stands with us and we will be calling on them more with the battles we face ahead.
DoDEA INCREASING CLASS SIZES
Unfortunately, 2019 has not started off well for our schools. Over the Association's objections, DoDEA has determined to raise the PTR at secondary schools therefore increasing class size and causing many more educators to be excessed. DoDEA likes to say, "Students are at the heart of all we do," but that is clearly NOT true. It is often said you can see an organization's values and priorities by looking at the budget. Clearly, DoDEA does not value the people who have made our system successful, those who work with students every day, nor do they value students if cuts are being made to direct services. FEA will continue to advocate for what is best for our members AND our students and will fight harmful decisions like this one. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and to check our website for the latest information on this and other important topics.
Because of the misguided decisions to raise PTR and to eliminate the FLES program, the closure of the Seoul schools, and other changes in schools and student populations, a large number of educators are being excessed this year. FRS's should be working with their Building administrators to ensure that proper procedures are followed in determining any excess in your schools. If FRS's have questions they should contact Local Presidents, Country President or Division Reps.
PLACEMENT OF EXCESSES
At this writing, FEA is still meeting with DoDEA concerning the placement of excessed educators. We are advocating to give those educators as many options as possible. Information will be released as soon as procedures become available.
One bright note among all of this bad news for some will be that DoDEA has been granted the authority to offer VSIP/VERA. You can find copies of the memos DoDEA released last week about VERA/VSIP eligibility and applications at our VERA/VSIP and EXCESS information page. The deadline to apply for VERA or VSIP, if you qualify, is February 1.
We continue to ask DoDEA for clarification on the impact of the 2017 tax laws on our current employees and retirees, but they have not been forthcoming with information on the impact or implementation of the law. It is unfortunate that the Agency is not more proactive in providing information on the impact on DoDEA employees. In particular, there has been conflicting information coming from different sources about whether the new tax applies to the shipment of household goods and vehicles between CONUS and OCONUS locations and vice verse. We have asked DoDEA about this issue and they say they are awaiting updated guidance on the issues and that, to their knowledge, GSA Bulletin FTR 19-02 from late November, available at the GSA site, is still the latest official guidance on the tax issue. That document says that extended storage of household goods for civilian employees assigned to locations OCONUS will not be taxed. The document does not say, however, that shipment (as opposed to storage) of such goods is exempt from the tax. It also says transportation of personally owned vehicles to, from or between CONUS and a civilian's post of duty OCONUS or between posts of duty OCONUS will not be taxed. Whether any of that guidance from November is still accurate, however, is uncertain.
For bringing a little fun to your classroom, here are some activities for that every popular 100th day in our ES's: 100th day of school lessons
For resources and information on the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. visit this page at the NEA site.
READ ACROSS AMERICA
It is never to early to get started on this great celebration of reading and literacy! Look for ways to engage your parents and community in this event. For ideas for your Read Across America celebration go to NEA's Read Across America page.
ATTENTION FEA RETIRED MEMBERS
Registration is now open to attend the 2019 NEA-Retired Conference at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel in Denver, Colorado, scheduled for March 17 and 18, 2019. Visit the NEA Retire site to register for the conference and make hotel reservations. Individuals who choose to attend must cover their own expenses.