Delivering on a promise he made during a town hall meeting for military spouses one year ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates took part in a groundbreaking Thursday at Fort Riley, Kan., for a new elementary school.
During the meeting last May, Gates told the spouses he was aware of their concerns about the decrepit conditions and overcrowding at the post’s public schools. He then promised to secure congressional authorization to transfer DOD funds for a new school to the Education Department, reported American Forces Press Service.
“Today, we mark a major step forward in solving school overcrowding here at Fort Riley, a problem that had become a major retention issue for the [1st Infantry Division], which is on its fourth deployment since 2003,” he said.
The department determined that the need to improve schools was most urgent at Riley, but the problem is pervasive. “The department has more than 150 public schools on military installations across America, and a recent assessment showed that many other school districts have similar difficulties raising the revenue required to meet capacity requirements and rehabilitate aging facilities,” Gates said.
Local school districts ultimately are responsible for public school facilities on military bases, he said. But DOD will intervene when it has the capability to upgrade military children’s educational opportunities, according to the story.