February 2014 FEA Stateside Update
VSIP/VERA: Everyone should have received the announcement of the offer for VERA/VSIP. The deadline to submit your application is February 24th. This offer is for all permanent employees. While rumors abound as to the number of potential offers, we do not have a definitive number for our teachers and support professionals at this time. The key understanding is that offers are only made to those who occupy positions that if vacated, would clearly result in the placement of a permanent employee facing the potential loss of a job. As more information is available, I will share as I can with your local leaders.
STAFFING CHANGES: Just a year ago there was clamor for students to receive more art, music and physical education in our schools. Now, despite attempts by the Association, as well as administrators and leadership at Peachtree City to educate DODEA HQ, they are determined to go forward with unnecessary and harmful cuts to those same positions! Art, music and physical education positions are being cut to be the same as DoDDS; that is, 500:1 for school year 2014. Unfortunately the leadership at DODEA HQ does not seem to understand that DDESS is not DoDDS, nor are they willing to listen and understand the harmful impact on our schools and students. As we face the loss of positions that directly impact the students and their education, new positions are being created … ‘Staff Development Coaches'. While the Association is not opposed to the ‘idea' of such coaches in theory, we are asking why then is DODEA keeping the ISS positions? Take all those ISS positions and use them for where the support is needed, in the schools, not sitting in an office creating checklists to prove to AdvEd that our teachers are doing a job that very few ISS have done in way too many years.
MOUs: We have recently signed an MOU with DODEA HQ to continue to offer the Virtual Summer High School. That MOU is available on the FEA website and through your local president. Another MOU is pending for a pilot program -- a STEM Partnership with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The current plan is for the STEM professionals to offer to volunteer with grade 7 science teachers in their classrooms; however this program is entirely voluntary for our teachers.
NOTIFICATION OF CHANGES: Other upcoming changes of which we have recently been notified are the Agency's intent to conduct a 100% background check audit of all employees who have regular contact with children in our DoDEA school system as well as their intent to launch the Profile of Strengths/Eligibility Status Record (Blue Card) in ASPEN, and to implement the new electronic Prior Written Notice form in the Special Education program. While the Agency does have the right to implement changes, under our negotiated agreement we have the right to bargain the impact and the implementation of those changes. Please make sure you notify your local president immediately of any changes being proposed by your school administrator.
SUMMER ENRICHMENT CANCELLED: Sadly, the financial woes have hit this great program and this summer will be void of the Summer Enrichment program for our students.
NEA RA DELEGATES: Voting has been completed and ballots counted for our delegates to the National education Association Representative Assembly. The five candidates receiving the most votes: David Presley, Jane Loggings, Grace Merkle, Diane Gibbs, and Lora Sue Tinsley. Alternates who may attend in the event any of the original five are unable to attend are (in order): Laurel Dawson, Bryan Melerski, Lillian Butler, Carleen Massey and Aundrea Stevens.
CONTRACT NEGOTIATION/MEDIATION: Mediation for all unresolved Articles, Sections, Subsections and Appendices continues. The first mediation session was conducted at the PTC Area Service Center the week of February 3- 7. The next session with the mediator is scheduled March 3-7 at the same location. If, after the mediation session(s )there are still unresolved Articles, Sections, Subsections and Appendices, the parties will be declared at impasse and will jointly request that the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) approve binding arbitration of the negotiation impasse. In the meantime the current Master Labor Agreement remains in effect.
RAND Study: There is no update at this time. Maybe the cold weather has put the ‘freeze' on it! Continue to check the DODEA website - here.
FEASR AREA Council: The next area council of district leaders for the certified and the classified professionals is scheduled to be held at Peachtree City (PTC) Area Service Center (ASC) February 28 and 29th. In addition to joint discussions with our Agency counterparts on Friday, the Saturday session is reserved for internal Association training and discussion. Please let your local leaders know of issues you feel should be addressed by the council at this time. On this Saturday, time will also be set aside to provide an opportunity for candidates running for the position of FEA Director for DDESS to address the council.
SPRING?! It has been a cold and wintry time -- let's hope that warmer weather is just around the corner!