May 2014 FEA Stateside Update

MAY 2014

REDUCTION IN FORCE: The enormity of the staffing cuts with the closing of 4 schools at Ft. Knox and the change to staffing allocation to our elementary specialists have been, quite simply, devastating for all of us. Since April 28th when the RIF letters starting going to our colleagues, we have maintained contact with Peachtree City in an attempt to get answers to your questions and concerns as your local leaders have forwarded to us. It is a disturbing time, to say the least. While we cannot reverse the decision to close the schools at Knox, we have not given up on the fight to get those elementary specialists' positions reinstated. Chuck McCarter, FEA President, has addressed this with Mr. Brady. I have attempted to lay out the far-reaching impact of the cuts -- this is not only about our fellow teachers losing their jobs, but the students who have so much to lose as their beloved programs face the ‘chopping block'. It is a disturbing time, a distressing time like I have never seen. I cannot promise Mr. Brady will reverse this decision made prior to his taking the lead at DODEA HQ, but I can promise your leaders at all levels in FEA understand the dreadfulness of the situation and we are doing everything we can to right this wrong.

CONTRACT NEGOTIATION/MEDIATION: As the terror of the RIF got underway, the contract mediation for all unresolved Articles, Sections, Subsections and Appendices concluded on 18 April in Peachtree City after three weeks of intense work. We are now in the final stages of preparing the ‘best, last and final' offers/proposals for the open articles. The deadline to forward to the Agency, as well as to the mediator, is this Thursday, May 8th. On 30 May the lawyers' briefs are due and June 9th will be the deadline for any rebuttals. The arbitrator will review to make the final decision as to which sides' proposals -- article by article - he will accept. Until the parties sign an agreement, the current contract stays in effect. I want to thank and congratulate the educator members of the team -- Mike Minutelli, Cynthia Francis, Sandy Akin and Jane Loggins -- for their time and professionalism. They put in a long 3 weeks! Kudos also go to Dorothy Lee, our chief negotiator, who was able to take the educator ideas and transform them into ‘legalese'. A job well done by all!

MOUs: We are awaiting the Agency signature for the MOU for the Culinary Arts Program training and the new Health Science materials training. Bargaining is also scheduled for the following: professional development for ESL educators in the use of new Math materials; training for MS/HS counselors on the revision to the DODEA High School Graduation Requirements; the use of the new high school Science texts; the change to the Medical Power of Attorney; Background Investigation checks; the Gifted Education ‘Blue Cards' in ASPEN; the process for automated Time and Attendance Access and Procedures. We are also looking at a review of the Gifted Education program and a small pilot for the U.S. History EOC. {I think some of the staff at DODEA HQ suddenly came out of hibernation!} Once completed, Association members can review the MOUs on the FEA website, or contact your local Association president.

AN EDUCATIONAL ALLIANCE: An alliance between the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) has been developed. UMUC will offer a 25 percent discount on out-of-state tuition rates on courses, certificates, and degree programs to all current Federal employees, spouses, and their legal dependents. The 25 percent discount will apply to all undergraduate programs and most graduate programs.

Anyone interested can begin to take advantage of this discounted tuition as early as the summer semester at UMUC. Registration for the first online summer session ends soon, on May 14, 2014. UMUC offers two additional online summer sessions in June and July. Visit UMUC for more information as well as the application and enrollment instructions. Frequently asked questions about this new opportunity are available through the CHCO memo announcement at this link. Thanks to Lisa Ali, one of the European Area Directors, for passing this along from one of her members.

ELECTIONS' CONGRATULATIONS: Congratulations to Jane Loggins as the newly elected FEA Director for DDESS! While Jane will officially assume her role on August 2nd, she is currently becoming involved as much as time allows with the issues facing all of our FEASR members. She even had the delightful experience of a teleconference with the FEA Board meeting last Sunday ….at 6:00 in the morning! Congratulations also go to Charlotte Autman who has been elected as the FEASR HCR coordinator. This position is a two year commitment with Charlotte being an active member of the FEASR council. I feel so good about these two leaders stepping up to the next level.

NATIONAL TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK: This week is designated as National Teacher Appreciation Week and is in full swing! There are amazing and wonderful things that happen every day in the schools because of each of you and what you bring to the profession. Even now, with the situation we face, you still do whatever it takes to ‘get er done' with our students. I encourage you to also take care of each other during these stressful times. With today being National Teacher Day, do something nice for a colleague. The smallest of token of appreciation can go a long way. And don't forget your nurses! Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 7 is the day set aside to recognize the work and contributions our nurses provide to everyone who walks through the doors of our schools.

Happy Spring ... take care or yourselves and try to find joy in your life each day.