ARLINGTON, Va. — Don’t expect an imminent decision on whether middle school teachers will be cut in Defense Department schools.

In May, an uproar ensued after the Federal Education Association gave Stars and Stripes internal documents that appeared to show the Department of Defense Education Activity planned to cut 350 middle school teachers.

But DODEA Director Shirley Miles said at the time the documents were only proposed changes and DODEA had no plans to cut that many middle school teachers.

A middle school task force will meet three or four times during the 2009-2010 school year to look at a variety of issues, including staffing and the pupil-to-teacher ratio, said DODEA spokeswoman Elaine Kanellis. She said recommendations aren’t likely until after next school year.

"Right now, it is premature to pin an exact number on the middle school PTR until the task group has completed its work and submitted its recommendations to Dr. Miles, who will make the final decision," Kanellis said Tuesday.

Miles has proposed increasing the middle school pupil-to-teacher ratio from 22.4:1 to 25:1 to make class sizes more consistent DODEA-wide.

In an interview with Stripes, Miles appeared to say that DODEA was looking into increasing middle school class sizes to free up positions for the elementary level, specifically kindergarten, where the pupil-to-teacher ratio is 29:1.

But Kanellis said middle school staffing and kindergarten class sizes are two separate issues.

"We are supporting the addition of 19 kindergarten teachers for school year 2009-2010 with slots that we have available now," she said. "They are not being resourced with slots from middle schools.

"We cannot resource the addition of 19 kindergarten teachers for school year 2009-2010 with slots from middle school because we don’t know what the recommendations from the task group are yet, and we have not made a decision and will not make a decision on middle school staffing until school year 2009-2010 is completed."

Meanwhile, the FEA has advised members not to talk to Stripes about any concerns they have about DODEA.

"We’ve asked people to let the association do talking for them just so that — to avoid any possibility of any retaliation from management for speaking to the Stars and Stripes," said Michael Priser, president of the teachers union.

Priser said the move is advice, not a gag order.

Kanellis would not respond to Priser’s comments, explaining she had not seen the guidance FEA had given its members.

Despite that guidance, a middle school teacher at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, who wished to remain unnamed, expressed her objection to increasing the size of middle school classes.

"I’ve been searching and scouring the Internet for any kind of data that would uphold any kind of cuts in the middle school arena and I can’t find any," she said. "There’s no evidence that this is going to be good for kids."

The teacher informed Stripes 15 minutes before her interview that the teachers’ union advised her not to give her name, saying it could potentially affect her career.

Several recent e-mails and calls to Stripes also expressed concern about speaking out.

However, Thomas Amend, a middle school teacher at Yokosuka, said in a letter to the editor published Wednesday: "I am saying here and now that the proposed staff changes by Miles are, to the extent I understand them, ill-advised."

DODEA names area superintendents

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Department of Defense Education Activity has announced the two people in charge of curriculum for schools in Europe and the Pacific.

Paul Dellacroce and Joyce Lutrey have been named area superintendents for curriculum, instruction and assessment for Europe and Pacific respectively, a DODEA news release said.

Dellacroce previously served as superintendent of the Elizabeth C-1 School District in Elizabeth, Colo., the news release said. Lutrey is currently superintendent of Highley Unified School District in Gilbert, Ariz., the news release said.

Under a plan to reorganize DODEA, the two will have purview over educational issues, which have traditionally been the area directors’ responsibility.

DODEA Director Shirley Miles told Stars and Stripes last month that area directors had so much else to do that, “They really didn’t focus in as much as they needed to on the curriculum piece.”

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