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February 13, 2009 FEA President's Report

To: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: February 13, 2009


TRANSFER APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED -- The deadline for applying to the DoDDS transfer program has been extended to Wednesday, February 25, at 5 p.m. (Eastern Time). The extension was made because the online application will be unavailable this weekend -- from 5 p.m. on February 13 to 2 p.m. on February 16 -- due to maintenance work by DoDEA's IT department.

DDESS RIF NOTICES -- This week, we learned of possible Reductions in Force for our Stateside locals at Fort Knox (both certified and ESP), Maxwell AFB, and Fort Jackson. News like this is horrible at any time, but even more so during downturns in the economy. I have been in touch with FEA Director for DDESS Terry Arvidson about this situation and we will work with the affected locals to ensure all RIF procedures are followed properly, in an effort to minimize the negative impact on our members.

TO WHAT EXTENT IS EXCENT READY? In August, 2008, DoDEA ignored the negative feedback on its pilot program and dismantled its school-based special ed program (Excent), replacing it with a web-based program riddled with problems. DoDEA Headquarters was soon inundated with concerns, problems and malfunctions caused by the new online version of Excent. HQ's had hoped to have Excent up and running by December, 2008--this did not occur. HQ's gathered data on the problem in October and submitted it to the vendor. A test run was conducted and additional data gathered in December. What are the continuing problems that were gathered after 4 months of data collection and a test run? Basically, the same problems reported by FEA in August. These include:
  • Font size in reports
  • Duplication of information
  • Inconsistent calculation of timeline dates
  • Incorrect names on forms
  • Missing names/dates/levels of performance
  • Printing problems
  • Inability to delete or change educational needs
  • Wasting paper to print
  • Problems with the progress report
These continuing problems are supposed to be corrected and will be field tested over the next 2 weeks. Excent is supposed to be up and functioning by next month. FEA is outraged that the problems reported over 6 months ago continue to be the same ones the vendor is currently working on. Dr. Shirley Miles expressed her extreme disappointment in the way this was handled as well and has apologized for this added work for school based educators. FEA will insist on a special education program that works, followed by appropriate training for all personnel. To be into the second semester with the same malfunctioning program is inexcusable and a tremendous disservice to students, parents and the educators trying to serve them.

DoDDS SCHOOLS DATABASE -- To help those seeking transfers learn more about possible locations, FEA member David Brown has assembled a database showing all DoDDS schools. The database includes links to each building's Web page, as well as recent enrollment data and grade levels offered. FEA members can download this database from the FEA Transfer Information Page, which is available via www.feaonline.org/transfers.htm. Thanks very much David!

TRANSFER APPLICANTS: PLAN AHEAD -- Last year DoDDS proposed to remove Okinawa from Group B (and, therefore, Group A+ as well). FEA was able to convince DoDDS to leave Okinawa in Group B for last year's transfer program. This year, DoDDS also took the initiative to remove Okinawa from Group B. FEA strongly objected to this change. DoDDS agreed to leave Okinawa in Group B for this year's Transfer Program. DoDDS did make it very clear that they would remove Okinawa from Group B, starting next year.

Of course, FEA has a comprehensive strategy and will do everything that we can to provide DoDDS with reasons why Okinawa should remain in Group B. We will also have alternative proposals to lessen the impact. We don't know what the outcome will be for next year. DoDDS did indicate that its decision to remove Okinawa from Group B (and, therefore, Group A+ as well) would not likely be changed.
Please keep this possibility in mind if you are considering a transfer to Okinawa, or if you are currently in Okinawa and wish to transfer out.

SUMMER WORKSHOPS -- FEA has raised concerns with DoDEA about the very limited offerings for Summer Workshops this year, particularly in the area of elementary education. We have asked that the course offerings be expanded. The online application process will begin February 23 and run through March 3.

READ ACROSS AMERICA -- March 2, the date for NEA's annual Read Across America celebration, is only 2 weeks away. Visit www.nea.org/readacross for event ideas and materials. Please plan to send one or two photos of your event, and a brief description, to FEA at fea@feaonline.org so we can include you on our Web site and in the May FEA Journal.

IT'S IN THE MAIL -- Speaking of the Journal, the most recent issue was mailed to members this week. Look for an update on the GPO/WEP issue, an explanation of the FERS Social Security Supplement and information to help you better understand all that texting your students are constantly doing. You can also view the Journal at www.feaonline.org/journal.htm

FYI -- The Federal Times recently reported that a bill to allow FERS employees to count unused sick leave as time toward their annuities will be reintroduced to Congress very soon. A similar bill was approved by the House of Representatives last year, but did not make it through the Senate.

Federal Times also reported the reintroduction recently of a bill that would allow federal employees returning to the federal workforce from the private sector to reinvest their full federal retirement annuity without losing any credit for previous years of service. The bill, H.R. 828, has been referred to a committee for review. A similar bill was introduced in 2007 but did not make it out of committee at that time.

Enjoy your long weekend!