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DEFENSE COMMUNITIES 360

Military Families Need Charter School Option, Committee Says

  • May 30, 2011
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The services should set up a process for military families to establish charter schools at installations that are not supported adequately by the local public school system, the House Appropriations Committee said in its report accompanying the fiscal 2012 military construction and veterans affairs spending bill.

The need for charter schools comes as frequent moves by military families highlight “the differences and inequities” among public school systems. As a result, an increasing number of families are opting for private or home schooling to compensate for the lack of quality in public education and to maintain continuity for their children, the committee said.

“[DOD] installations throughout the United States are struggling with the issue of dependent education for K-12 students,” according to the report.

The committee also cited a DOD report recommending parents be allowed to start charter schools at installations in the same manner that civilians can under state law. “Offering a charter school option in areas with less desirable local schools would give parents stationed in those locations another choice in addition to the private school or home schooling options,” the department concluded.

The committee also directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of charter schools located on military installations. The study would identify potential challenges to developing charter schools on additional bases and assess the impact of overcrowding on the continuity of dependent education.

The FY 2012 milcon spending bill is scheduled to go to the House floor this week. The committee approved the measure May 24.

Separately, the committee applauded the department for budgeting sufficient funds to recapitalize more than half of its dependent schools by FY 2015, an effort which should enhance quality of life for military families. The committee recommended $483 million for the program in FY 2012, matching the administration’s budget request.

A recent assessment of DOD dependent schools found that 149 of 189 schools had facilities with an overall condition rating of either poor or failing and required significant investment to eliminate shortfalls in classroom space and temporary facilities.

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