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April 21 2015 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: April 21, 2015

DODDS SALARY INCREASE

FEA met with representatives of DoDEA and the DOD Wage Setting Authority last week to review and finalize the data used to compute DODDS salary schedules for the current school year. As a result, we are happy to announce that, for the first time since school year 2010-2011, DODDS will implement the new salary schedule as required by law and salaries will be increased.

The specific rate of increase for each lane and step on the salary schedules will vary, but here are the overall average rates of increase (compared to the SY 10-11 schedules everyone has been paid under during the salary freeze) for each position:
Classroom teachers -- 3.0%
Guidance counselors -- 3.2%
School psychologists -- 2.6%
Speech/Language Pathologists -- 3.6%
(please remember: these are overall average rates of increase. The percentage of increase for your specific step and lane of the schedule may be higher or lower.)

The full SY 2014-2015 DODDS salary schedules will be posted on the FEA Web site in the days ahead.


RETRO PAY

Thanks to successful legal action by FEA, our members will not have to wait until next school year to see the above-mentioned salary increases. You will receive a pay adjustment, retroactive to the start of the current school year, included in one of your paychecks this spring.

As you are probably aware, DODDS salary are set by law at the average rate of compensation for similar positions in urban school districts of at least 100,000 population. The meeting between FEA and DOD officials referenced above is held each spring to finalize those numbers. The salary figures cannot be finalized until the spring because it takes most of the school year for DOD's Wage Setting Authority to collect salary data for the current school year from the roughly 265 urban districts that meet the population threshold. FEA then needs time to verify and correct the data presented by DOD.

Years ago, DODDS employees would not have been on the "new" salary schedule until the start of the following school year. But FEA took legal action in Federal Court (March v. United States, 506 F.2d 1306) to make sure that employees receive the retroactive pay adjustment, so that they are receiving the full amount due to them each school year.


SALARY LAWSUIT

Neither the increases to the salary schedules nor the retroactive pay adjustments referenced above have any impact upon FEA's lawsuit against DOD over the illegal freezing of DODDS salaries since SY 2010-2011. It remains FEA's contention that DODDS salaries should never have been frozen in the first place since the law freezing Federal civilian pay did not apply to our members and that, even if the law had applied to members, their salaries should have been "unfrozen" on January 1, 2014, when the freeze expired for all DOD civilians affected.

On April 23, the Court of Federal Claims in Washington DC will hear oral arguments from attorneys representing FEA and the federal government in our motion for summary judgment of FEA's lawsuit and the government's motion to dismiss the suit. If FEA prevails in its suit, our members could be owed retroactive pay ranging from a few dollars to well over a thousand dollars per member. We will continue to update members on this suit in the FEA Journal and through other channels as the case progresses.


TRANSFERS

DoDEA Headquarters has confirmed that the transfer reassignment letters have all been sent out. Placements will continue only for excessed educators who have not yet been placed and those excessed educators who have requested reconsideration under the reconsideration guidelines. All new vacancies must continue to be sent to DoDEA Headquarters for these placements.


LOCAL LEADERSHIP

This is the time of year when locals hold elections for officers, FRS/FRs and other positions. If you have never held an office in your school or local, please consider it. Even if you have no experience, there are jobs that you can do to help your local association and all of FEA's leadership had to start somewhere! We do provide training and support for our FRS's and FR's. Don't assume the same people should always do the jobs….step up, take a turn. We are truly a member-driven organization. Even if you don't run for an elected office, look for ways to get involved and support your local association…offer to attend a meeting with, or in place of, your FRS….offer to distribute newsletters, decorate an Association Bulletin Board, take notes, bring treats to a meeting. We are stronger when we ALL work together.


WATCH YOUR LES

We cannot say this enough! What your LES's for unexpected changes or unexplained deductions!


PRESIDENT'S TRAVELS

I was in Peachtree City April 16-18 to meet with the Stateside Area Council. This was a great opportunity for me to hear from our stateside leadership and to learn more about the issues and concerns they face in their locals. This week, I will be leaving for school visits in Europe. I will be visiting Ansbach, Kaiserslautern, Wiesbaden, Bitburg/Spangahlem, Brussels. SHAPE, and AFNORTH. Please see local leaders in each of those locations for schedules, etc. Each time I make one of these trips I wish I could have more time in the schools I visit and that I could add more schools to my itinerary! Unfortunately, both time and budget are limited.


CELEBRATIONS

There are countless observance days, weeks, and months throughout the year, and we don't always remember to mention them here, but there are several coming up shortly. Earth Day, April 22, provides an opportunity for a variety of relevant and important lessons. Go to this site for lesson plans and activities. Another celebration which I always enjoyed as a teacher was "Poem in Your Pocket Day." It was a great way to engage with kids about writing and poetry as well as a chance to talk about their interests, etc. This year the date is April 30. For more information on this celebration go to this page.

As mentioned in my previous update, April is also the Month of the Military Child. No one needs to remind our members how incredible these young people are but we are glad to see they are receiving this special honor for their courage and sacrifice.