How Will Sequestration Affect DoD Schools?

Unless Congress and the President strike a last second deal, the sequestration period will begin on March 1st.  This will result in a mass furlough of federal employees that will eventually affect DoD schools and other military child care programs and services. However, the effect will not be immediate. A continuing resolution will keep funding levels for DoD Education Activity (DoDEA) schools funded at FY 2012 levels until March 27, with furloughs slated to begin in the second half of April.

The Department of Defense began formally notified Congress of the plans to furlough employees in their districts on about February 20th, according to a DoD release. The DoD must then wait at least 45 days from that day to begin executing the furloughs. They are slated to begin occurring in late April, according to the Department of Defense. That gives Congress a further window to strike a deal to avoid sequestration before the furloughs take effect.

Once the furloughs begin, employees will be furloughed for 22 “discontinuous days.” For hourly employees, that translates to 176 hours. Workers can take no more than 16 furlough hours per pay period. That’s enough to create a 20 percent pay cut for them – and a commensurate reduction in services for you.

The furloughs will affect overseas installations and CONUS posts alike. The only exceptions the DoD has identified so far are political appointees, civilians needed to protect life or property, civilians in war zones, and foreign workers employed overseas, if their continued employment is mandated under the status of forces agreement treaties with host nation governments.

Practically all civilian workers at DoD schools face the same furloughs as other federal employees.

The process

The Department of Defense began formally notified Congress of the plans to furlough employees in their districts on about February 20th, according to a DoD release. The DoD must then wait at least 45 days from that day to begin executing the furloughs. They are slated to begin occurring in late April, according to the Department of Defense. That gives Congress a further window to strike a deal to avoid sequestration before the furloughs take effect.

Once the furloughs begin, employees will be furloughed for 22 “discontinuous days.” For hourly employees, that translates to 176 hours. Workers can take no more than 16 furlough hours per pay period.

Ok, so how does that affect your local DoD school? Unfortunately, the DoDEA isn’t much help so far.

The latest: “We are unclear at this time how a furlough will affect DoDEA.” The DoDEA has put off any final decisions until March.

They do intend to provide military schoolchildren with a full year of academic credit, even with the sequestration, and to maintain school accreditation standards. They also intend for DoD schoolchildren to complete their final exams this year, and next year, if sequestration is still in effect, pending further budget guidance from Congress and the incoming Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel.

However, under existing guidance, furloughs will apply universally and apply to all DoD school level employees.

The DoDEA intends that critical functions needed for operation, health, safety and security of schools and students will continue under sequestration. Specifically, transportation and school bus security will continue, as will safety attendants. However, in a talking points bulletin issued by the DoDEA, their officials are instructed to inform teachers and staff that they do not yet know what extent, if any, the plans or final decisions will have on extra and co-curricular activities, testing, transportation or school operations.

Meanwhile, the DoDEA has halted conferences and training other than mission-essential activities, and will cease rotating administrators among positions to save on travel and relocation costs. However, the DoD will still work to place any excess current employees into vacancies, and will still fund relocation for these individuals.

For DoDEA Employees

If you are a DoD employee, the DoDEA has some further information that applies to you:

  • * You will continue to receive your living quarters allowance, furlough or no furlough. Sequestration does not affect LQA directly, although the State Department can act to raise or lower the allowance amount.
  • * Post Allowance will continue as well. Salaries don’t change, and post allowance is a function of salary, so you will continue to receive the same Post Allowance.
  • * You will still receive Temporary Quarters Subsistence Allowance on furlough days.
  • * Your Post Differential will likely be reduced. Post Differential is paid as a percentage of gross salary received. If your salary is reduced because you are furloughed, your Post Differential will go down with it.
  • * You cannot volunteer at your school on an unpaid status, unless specifically authorized by law, under 31 U.S.C. 1342.
  • * Want to take outside employment? Be careful. Some outside activities may be prohibited, under 5 CFR 2635. Check the regs, and your agency ethical staff. If they are at work.
  • * You cannot work solely for the purpose of accruing religious compensatory time.
  • * You can’t substitute paid leave or any other form of paid time off to beef up your take-home pay during furloughs.
  • * You will still be covered under the Federal Employee Health Benefit program, provided your salary is still enough to pay premiums. If not, and you want to stay on the plan, back premiums will build up, to be deducted from your pay when your salary or pay returns to normal levels.
  • * Long Term Care coverage, if you are participating in FLTCIP, will continue. If they don’t receive premiums for three consecutive pay periods, the contracting carrier will either drop coverage or bill you directly.
  • * You may theoretically be eligible for unemployment compensation, though this usually kicks in when programs are shuttered and employees furloughed for a couple of weeks or more. Most workers won’t have their pay reduced enough to qualify for much in the way of unemployment benefits.
  • * You aren’t covered by workers compensation insurance for injuries that occur while you are on furlough status.

 

For more detailed information on how the furlough process works for federal employees, see this handbook from the federal Office of Personnel Management.


3 Comments for How Will Sequestration Affect DoD Schools?


Posted on Tuesday 5th March, 2013, 8:53pm

Is there any word yet on how this will affect the hire of new teachers?

Posted on Sunday 10th March, 2013, 2:00am

How can teachers be furloughed for 22 days from April through September when they are not being paid between June 14 to August 21? Teachers are only paid for the days they work during the school year. They are not paid during spring break or winter break. They are paid for the same 10 Federal holidays that all Federal employees receive, but other than that, they are only paid for the 180 some days that school is in session plus the scheduled teacher work days. Do the math. You cannot deduct 16 working hours (2 days) per pay period between April through September for a total of 22 days. There aren’t that many weeks when school is in session.

Posted on Monday 11th March, 2013, 1:40pm

Hi, Kat.

Many school districts pay their teachers over a 12 month period. My father is retired Army and now teaches high school math. His annual pay is divided into 26 bi-weekly payments, so if any of the military schools follow the same pay structure, teachers could have one day’s pay deducted from those paychecks to cover the furlough.

Wanna say something?






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