February 29, 2012 FEA President's ReportTo: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: February 29, 2012
THE EFFECTS OF MILITARY TRANSFORMATION -- By now, you probably know that the military is making major changes to the numbers and locations of troops to be stationed in Europe. Some of those changes will take a few years to implement but others will take effect as soon as this summer. We will continue to update our members as we learn more details. Members not already signed up to receive our e-mail updates should go to www.feoanline.org/listserv.htm to register. FEA will be involved in high-level meetings with DoDEA officials twice a week.
WHAT SCHOOLS ARE AFFECTED, AND WHEN? -- For some time, we have known that Mannheim Elementary will close this summer, as will Geilenkirchen Elementary School. Now, we have word that the 170th infantry brigade at Baumholder will be drawing down this summer, causing a reduction in personnel there. The number of educators to be excessed from Baumholder has not been determined yet, but based upon media reports we are expecting a military reduction there of 30 to 50 percent. DoDEA is awaiting word from the military on what the expected final size at Baumholder will be so that is can determine how many educators must be excessed and get notifications to those educators.
For 2013, in addition to the previously scheduled closing of schools at Heidelberg, it is expected that Schweinfurt and Bamberg will see further reductions in staff as the result of continuing drawdowns. The number of positions expected to be lost at those locations has not yet been determined and may not be known for some time.
SPECIAL NOTICE FOR EXCESS -- Those who are declared excess are reminded that you have three work days from the date of notification to apply for VERA and the DoDDS Early Incentive Award. Those excessed who are not placed locally should be sure to complete an application for the DoDDS Transfer Program so that your location and category preferences can be taken into consideration while placements are sought for you. Remember, however, that if your location/category preferences cannot be accommodated, you may be placed anywhere in the world for any position you are certified to teach. For that reason, it is important to make your preferences known.
EXCESS NUMBERS UP THIS YEAR -- By the way, the changes to Europe outlined above, as well as higher-than-usual numbers of excess employees expected from Korea and Japan this year will result in a hundred or more excess employees needing to be placed throughout DoDDS. Most of these will hopefully be placed locally, prior to the start of the transfer round.
WILL THE TRANSFER PROGRAM BE DELAYED -- Possibly, though nothing has been decided yet. FEA recognizes the difficulty DoDEA faces in identifying those educators from Baumholder who will be declared excess and trying to place them locally. If it does become necessary to delay the transfer round in order to accommodate this process, we will of course let our members know immediately.
ART/MUSIC/PE MEMO FROM HQ -- Last week, a memo was sent out from DoDEA asking for schools to submit a plan on how they could offer one-hour each for Art, Music and PE in the DoDEA schools. FEA was concerned that the language in the memo was not clear. These plans could include asking for additional staffing in those 3 areas in order to meet this goal. FEA has made it clear that we support a bona-fide art, music and PE program. Plans that merely take away 15 minutes from instructional time and directing the regular classroom teacher to "sing songs," "draw pictures," or "take an extended recess" are NOT equivalent to providing a full art, music or PE program with a certificated specialist. The sample schedules that DoDEA Headquarters attached to its memo were unclear as to who would provide this additional 15 minutes of instruction. The "Tip" sheet DoDEA attached implied that utilizing activities that tie art/music to the regular curricula is a new practice. It is not. Teachers have been doing this for years and will continue to do so. FRS's are encouraged to work with your principal on plans that are developed. Let FEA know if there are any questions or concerns.
BAS -- Many thanks to our members who took the time to respond to our online survey about the Benchmark Assessment System (BAS). The results have been compiled and we will report on them in the next FEA Journal when it comes out this spring. Meanwhile, we are using your input as we negotiate with management on the future use for the BAS. As this time, nothing has been decided or agreed upon. We will update you when those negotiations are complete.
WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH -- March is Women's History Month. Find lesson plans and other resources you can use to incorporate this observation into your classroom by going to NEA's Women's History Month page.
RAA -- Finally, let me remind everyone that this Friday, March 2, is NEA's Read Across America. Our members have been making this reading celebration a worldwide event for more than a decade now. You can find ideas and materials to help in your reading events by going to the Read Across America Resource site. As always, we invite our members to share photos of yourselves in Dr. Seuss mode by sending a picture or two to firstname.lastname@example.org.