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May 1 2010 FEA President's Report

To: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: May 1, 2010


EXCENT -- I just returned from a month of visits to schools throughout Europe. One of the most frequent concerns I heard during that trip -- as well as in e-mails from members around the world -- is about ongoing problems with Excent. Members are reporting that Excent is often not available at critical times, it is not compatible with DoDEA's available bandwidth, and, in general, there are times that Excent simply does not work like it is supposed to.
I am very concerned with Dr. Miles' position on this situation, as elaborated in the April 7 memo put out by David Cantrell, Chief of Special Education and Student Services at DoDEA. Dr. Miles apparently believes that 95 percent of Excent problems have already been resolved. She also believes that employees should be able to complete all of their work within the duty day despite the numerous problems caused by Excent. In neither case is she correct.
Clearly Dr. Miles either does not understand or does not care about the timelines that must be met regardless whether Excent is functioning properly. Her refusal to recognize the work done outside the duty day will be raised at the highest level.

BUDGET CUTS -- We have learned of a $15 million shortfall in the DoDEA budget for the current school year. The obvious question is, "where did this money go?" One place we know it did not go is toward professional development for classroom educators. In fact, DoDEA claims to have budgeted and spent $14 million each year since 2007 on professional development and FEA is very skeptical about that figure. If DoDEA is spending $14 million each year just on professional development, we have no idea who is benefiting from it, since it certainly isn't the educators -- they've had their professional development opportunities cut back significantly in the past few years, under Dr. Miles' directorship. FEA has asked for an accounting of this $14 million in the past and DoDEA has refused to give us the information. DoDEA has also refused to provide other financial information we have requested for purposes of bargaining and representing our members. Their ongoing refusal to share such public information about how taxpayer dollars are being spent prompted FEA recently to file an Unfair Labor Practice against DoDEA. All of this money is going somewhere; since it certainly isn't going into the classroom, FEA demands to know where DoDEA's budget is going and how we can be facing a $15 million shortfall.

VOLCANO -- FEA members, and the DoDDS community as a whole, deserve a round of applause for the way they handled the recent travel shutdown bought on by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland. I've heard many stories of members helping to cover classes for their colleagues who were stranded somewhere, as well as stories of members going to amazing lengths to return to their schools as quickly as possible. Your dedication and professionalism brightened what could have been a horrible situation for our schools. I want to also thank DoDEA for granting administrative leave to educators who were stranded as a result of the volcano. This whole experience has been a reminder of the very positive things that happen every day in our schools when everyone works together in the service of our military families.

DoDDS SALARIES -- In case you missed the special update sent out a few weeks ago: the DoDDS salary schedules for SY 09-10 have been finalized and are available to members at FEA's Web site. Go to www.feaonline.org/passport/salary/salaryincrease.htm

ELECTRONIC LES -- By order of the Office of Management and Budget, Leave and Earnings Statements (LES) will now be issued electronically to all federal employees. Those who do wish to continue receiving their LES in paper form via mail may go to MyPay and request the paper option.

SOFTWARE VALIDATION -- Keep in mind, as computers throughout DoDEA are being re-imaged, unapproved software will be removed as part of the re-imaging process. If there is any software on your computer that is not on the approved list and you want to keep that software, you should see your building principal to start the process of getting that software approved. Do not wait until your computer has been re-imaged since it will be too late to recover your software.

YOUR WEEK -- May 2-9 is Teacher Appreciation Week, and May 4 is National Teacher Day. Furthermore, May 12 is National School Nurses Day. Congratulations and thank you for all that you do!

HQ's SPECIAL EDUCATION AND PE SURVEY COMING -- DoDEA will be conducting a survey over the next two weeks for special education personnel and physical education teachers. The purpose of the survey is to measure the impact on the two initiatives that were implemented by Dr. Joe Tafoya to address needs of special education and physical education teachers. FEA encourages your participation.

MORE TRAVEL -- I'm heading to the Pacific in May for visits to Korea, Okinawa and Japan. While there I will be attending FRS trainings and meeting with members and local leaders. Thank you in advance to everyone in the Pacific who is hosting me and making arrangements. I also want to thank the countless people in Europe who helped me over the past month. You made my visit productive and enjoyable.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to everyone!