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January 31, 2014 FEA Pacific Update

JANUARY 31, 2014

Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Area Director Report
Upcoming Events
Staffing Documents
VERA/VSIP
Not too soon to think RA
NEA Read Across America
FEA Area Director Candidates
Reality Check
Do You Know your Negotiated Agreement? -Staffing Procedure and Involuntary Reassignment
Legal Eagle Corner-
Mark Your Calendars
Other Tidbits

Area Director Report: A New Year and semester has begun. I hope that the year of the horse is a spectacular one for you. We are looking forward to an exciting event. FEA President Chuck McCarter will be visiting Okinawa schools with me, February 6-10. Chuck and I are looking forward to visiting the schools, meeting teachers and listening to your concerns. Please check with your FRS to find out when we are coming to your school. There will also be a general meeting as well. Thanks to District President, Melanie Horton for arranging all the logistics!

Upcoming Events:
February 5-13 Okinawa School Visits with FEA President Chuck McCarter and visit with Dr. Curtis
February 8-9 PAL Council Meeting
March TBD Korea School Visits

Staffing Documents: Principals and FRSs have received the staffing documents for SY 2014-15 and your FRS and principal are working next year's staffing. We use an agreed upon memorandum and flowchart in case of any overstaffing situations at a school. At this time, I have not received a suspense date for submission of excess teachers to DoDEA HQ. This segues into VERA/VSIP.

VERA/VSIP: (Voluntary Early Retirement Annuity/Voluntary Separation Pay Incentive) At this time, DoDEA HQ has not announced a date of release for the second window VERA/VSIP announcement. Last year it did arrive the first week of February. The VERA/VSIP offer to closing schools has been made and is almost complete. If you are considering VERA/VSIP, make sure that you have your correct Service Computation Date (SCD) ready.

Not too soon to think about the NEA Representative Assembly: The FEA Annual Membership meeting and 2014 NEA RA will be held in Denver, Colorado. The membership meeting dates are June 30 -- July 1. The RA dates are July 2-6. Your districts will be holding elections for the RA in the near future. Check with your FRS for details.

NEA Read Across America: It is never too soon to begin planning for Read Across America in honor of Dr. Seuss. Please check with your FRS for the election timelines and procedures. March 3, 2014 is the date for the annual celebration. You can visit this page for more information and ideas.

FEA Area Director Candidates: FEA has released the names of the candidates for the Pacific and Europe. For more information, go to this page.

Reality Check:

This is the time of year that a number of our schools are undergoing the agony of the External Review (the latest of many names) for accreditation. School Improvement/AdvancED is the number one complaint that our FEA leaders receive each year and rightfully so. Year after year teachers and FRSs report that school improvement is a top-down exercise. The process is not school owned and often teachers report the goals are not what the school needs and if they are, the teachers are not allowed to develop strategies they believe that will make a difference. Each year on every level, from the FRS to FEA HQ, we address concerns involving unnecessary meetings, and testing in the name of AdvancED. I have often listened to teachers describe their discussions with AdvancED representatives about requirements. Their responses do not match what DODDS management is requiring. Still, DoDEA HQ turns a deaf ear to the experts, you the teachers. FEA will continue to speak up and demand an accreditation process that is school owned and actually results in school improvement.

Do You Know your Negotiated Agreement?: Article 8 covers Staffing Procedures and Article 10 deals with Involuntary Reassignment. Article 8, Section 1 describes how the employer first considers filling a vacancy. Section 2 explains that the employees interested in vacancies should notify their employer in writing each year. This can be updated at any time. Section 3 explains that a teacher returning to the same school the following SY shall be notified of his/her teaching assignment and number of classes prior to the close of the current SY.

In Article 10 it is noted that involuntary reassignments shall be kept to a minimum and whenever possible filled by volunteers. If you are involuntary reassigned, the principal has to provide you a written notice with the reasons for the reassignment and why you were selected. The reassigned teacher has the right to give reason why he/she should not be reassigned.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner: Thank you Debra for reminding me that this is the year of the horse. That explains why our workload galloped forward immediately after winter recess!

Budget. It seems that many of the issues we face right now are the direct result of belt tightening. Summer Enrichment has been canceled. Official time to conduct union representation is being curtailed. We have seen a superintendent at one point refuse to reimburse itinerant teachers for travel expenses. Reassignments to mid-year vacancies will not carry with them overseas entitlements should the applicant be a locally hired educator. It appears that transfers from DDESS to DODDS at mid-year are being offered at no cost to the Government for travel and transportation. Leave has been restricted in many circumstances involving long term LWOP for medical reasons. Any Purpose Leave and leave approval in general have been up-tightened. Extra-curricular and TDY funding is in a drought just like California right now.

Hospital Billing. Prancing forward, if you receive notification from a military hospital that you are overdue paying your bills, you need to stop and review what is taking place. The hospital must bill your medical insurance. You owe the co-pay. We are seeing in some cases that the hospital has not billed the insurance, the billing is stale and now the teacher is expected to pay the whole enchilada. Immediately, submit the billing yourself to the insurance carrier for payment. If the bill is older than one year most carriers will refuse to pay. Foreign Service Protective Association has in the past paid the billing up to two years. If there is a rejection from the carrier, this is what you must present to the hospital with a demand to cancel any collection action against you. In some cases you might have already received a debt notice from DFAS. Here is what the Yokota Hospital wrote to us in 2009:

Mr Bauernfeind,

Please inform your union members that we are in no way filing lawsuits against individuals who did not receive timely notifications of their bills. Matter of fact, we were just recently given authorization to exclude charges that were not billed timely. At this point in time, we request patients provide the Explanation of Benefits from their insurance agency declining payment for any bills and we will exclude as appropriate. Please share this information with your union members and if you have any further questions/concerns please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be glad to sit with you at your convenience if you'd like to discuss this matter in further detail.

Resource Management Flight Commander
374th Medical Group
Yokota AB, Japan

Pay Records. Reminder, for all questions about any debt or payroll issues, you may request help from Assistant UNISERV Stephanie Trotter at this email. If DFAS has taken money from you in violation of the law, we will immediately have you file a grievance and this will be forwarded to Europe General Counsel Bill Freeman for litigation.

Q: What did one horse say to the other horse?
A: The pace is familiar but I can't remember the mane.

Mark Your Calendars
FEBRUARY

February 1-28 Black History Month
February 3-7 National School Counseling Week (thank your counselor)
February 12 Abraham Lincoln's Birthday
February 14 Valentine's Day
February 15 Susan B. Anthony's Birthday
February 17 Presidents' Day
February 20 Frederick Douglass Day
February 22 George Washington's Birthday

Other Tidbits

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to this page.

NEH Summer Programs for School and College Educators: NEA Director for FEA Brian Chance has participated in several National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Seminars. He says that is a great professional development opportunity with the bonus of some funding to cover the expenses.

Each year, NEH offers tuition-free opportunities for school, college, and university educators to study a variety of humanities topics. Stipends of $1,200 - $3,900 help cover expenses for these one to five week programs. For more information and application instructions, please visit the websites for individual programs. Here is the link.

DoDDS Reunion- Check it out DoDDS teachers! The annual DoDDS reunion will be held in Richmond, Virginia, 17-20 July. For registration information: go here . Registration prices rise after December 31.

TURKEY VISA Requirement -- In case you are going to Turkey or Europe… thanks to Brian Chance…

From: Young, Glenda, Ms., CIV, OSD/DoDEA-Europe Posted At: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 3:28 PM Posted
To: Director's Distribution
Conversation: New VISA Requirements
Subject: ***New VISA Requirements & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS AT TURKISH ENTRY POINTS

No More Visas on Arrival in Turkey

Beginning April 10, 2014, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will no longer provide visas on arrival to foreign travelers. All foreigners must obtain their Turkish visas from Turkish missions abroad or from the e-visa application system, depending on eligibility. PLEASE NOTE: The e-visa system is only usable for travelers entering Turkey for tourism or commerce. For any other purpose of travel, the applicant must obtain a Turkish visa in advance from a Turkish diplomatic or consular post.

Information regarding Turkish e-visas and the application process can be found at: this linke.

Additionally,

PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS AT TURKISH ENTRY POINTS
According to recent changes in the Turkish immigration regulations, foreigners who present themselves at the border with a travel document that does not have any blank pages left for Turkish entry and exit stamps will not be allowed to enter the country. If you do not have any blank pages left in your U.S. passport, you may have additional visa pages added to your U.S. passport. This can be done within one day, and costs $82. Please schedule an online appointment through our website.

NEW TURKISH E-VISA
As of April 17, 2013, the Turkish electronic visa (e-visa) became available. Beginning April 10, 2014, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will no longer provide visas on arrival to foreign travelers. As of April 10, travelers to Turkey must obtain Turkish visas from Turkish missions abroad or from the e-visa application system, depending on eligibility. Foreigners are required to present a six month validity passport in order to apply for a Turkish e-visa. Although the e-visa duration is for 180 days, foreigners cannot stay more than 90 days in Turkey within these 180 days. Foreigners who are planning to stay more than 90 days in Turkey should apply for a Turkish residence permit.

E-Visa application is possible from any place with an internet connection. Applicants just need to log on to this site, provide the requested information, wait for approval then make the online payment and download the e-Visa. The whole process takes no more than 10 minutes.

Please note that the e-visa is only valid when the purpose of travel is tourism or commerce. Other purposes, such as work and study, require regular visas given by Turkish embassies or consulates abroad.

Citizens of these countries are eligible to apply for e-Visas: Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Greek Cypriot Administration, Grenada Haiti, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Jamaica, Kuwait, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, U.S.A, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom.

Citizens of these countries are also eligible to apply for e-Visas under certain conditions: Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Republic of Congo, Republic of Moldova, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sao Torne and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, United Republic

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR U.S. EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN TURKEY:
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, tel: (90)(312) 455-5555, fax (90)(312) 468-6131. The Internet address is here .

The U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul is located at Uçsehitler Sokagi No. 2, 34460, Istinye, Sariyer, tel: (90) (212) 335-9000, fax (90) (212) 335-9102. Istanbul-specific information can also be accessed via the Consulate's web site at this page .

Until the next Update,

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director