November 14 2008 FEA President's ReportTo: FEA Members and Local Leaders
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: November 14, 2008
EXCENT ONLINE PROBLEMS -- FEA has forwarded to DoDEA Headquarters a list of the major concerns that continue to persist in Excent Online. These concerns focus on the inordinate amount of time required for Special Education/CSC tasks. There are also continued problems with lost data, duplicate data, cutting off, down time, and the lag time between SMS and updates. Also, printing and editing reports are problematic. FEA appreciates the input from members in the field. We will forward updates as to progress being made as soon as we receive that from DoDEA Headquarters. In the meantime, continue to document the time and your needs in this process. Once again, our members are doing an outstanding job during this very adverse situation.
IT PROBLEMS -- Rumors have been circulating among FEA members about possible Information Technology (IT) problems that may crop up in the DoDEA computer system when using either Microsoft Word documents containing Macros or the portable ZIP drives (commonly known as "thumb drives" or "memory sticks") that are now common. The rumors talk about computers locking up or shutting down when such Word documents or ZIP drives are used. FEA has heard these concerns as forwarded to us by our members. As always, we have been working with management to ensure that the educational component is in the forefront of the decision-making process. We have forwarded your questions/concerns to DoDEA Headquarters and the DoDEA IT department has replied, stating there is nothing in the DoDEA Secure Configuration settings that should cause computers to lock up or shut down as a result of using a ZIP Drive or Word file containing a Macro. DoDEA does ask, however, that computer users inform them immediately of any problems so they can be quickly addressed. Please continue to inform your FEA representatives of any problems you encounter, as well as rumors or concerns that you hear, so we can pass them on to DoDEA for further review.
INFORMATION ASSURANCE -- As the result of a Pentagon directive to bring DoDEA in compliance with the rest of DoD, educators are being required to view a PowerPoint presentation on Information Assurance. DoDEA Headquarters has said the presentation is to be completed "within the confines of a regular faculty meeting."
STAMP -- FEA recently signed an MOU for the High School Foreign Language Assessment. The MOU states that all necessary equipment will be in place prior to testing, including computers with appropriate bandwith for the two-day test administration. Building administrators are to work with their FRSs to minimize the impact on the rest of their staff. Systemic data results will be shared with FEA and training will be provided prior to implementation of the new assessment. You can read the STAMP MOU by going to the MOU page at FEAONLINE (login required).
SPED AIDES -- FEA has received a number of concerns about reducing or eliminating Special Education services provided by designated (one-on-one) aides. On November 7, DoDEA Headquarters stated they have not sent out any guidance on these dedicated aides, nor have they requested that the local CSCs (Child Study Committees) meet for anything other than their annual IEP meetings. FEA encourages all Special Education teachers to read the SIS guidance included in the MOU of April 30, 2008, available at the MOU page at FEAONLINE (member login required).
NSPS -- The November FEA Journal, which was mailed to members this week, includes an update on the likely future of NSPS in light of the elections earlier this month. Look for the Journal in your mailbox, or read it online at www.feaonline.org.
100 PERCENT -- I've learned of two more schools to achieve 100 percent FEA membership this school year. Congratulations to Liberty Intermediate School and Kleine Brogel Elementary School for achieving this remarkable feat. The FRS at Liberty Intermediate is Maggie Detchon. Kleine Brogel's FRS is Becky Brennen. Congratulations to each of them, their local leaders and their entire memberships -- and thank you for your support of FEA and the education profession!
OPEN SEASON -- The Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) Open Season is now underway. Open season is the one period each year when feds can make changes to their health coverage. Those wishing to participate in the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program, known as FSAFEDS, are reminded that they must re-enroll each year if they want to continue participating in the program (there is no automatic renewal). For more information, go to OPM's Open Season information page. Open season for all Federal Benefits programs runs until December 8, 2008.
AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK -- This coming week, November 16-22, is American Education Week, and Wednesday, November 19, is Educational Support Professional (ESP) Day. Congratulations to all FEA members as we formally recognize the amazing work you do every day to further public education. To learn more about American Education Week, or get ideas for how your school can celebrate, go to NEA's American Education Week page.
Happy American Education Week, and have a great weekend!