DoDEA Receives Further Guidance on Budgetary Uncertainty

Last month the National Military Family Association met with Department of Defense Educational Activity (DoDEA) Director Marilee Fitzgerald to discuss what impact the ongoing budget crisis might have on children who attend DoD schools in the U.S. and overseas. Director Fitzgerald acknowledged that the combination of the ongoing Continuing Resolution and the threat of sequestration poses a challenge, but added that DoDEA planned to address budget cuts by severely curtailing travel and professional development. Her goal, which we applauded, was to keep budget cuts out of the classroom and protect the educational experience of our military-connected kids.

However, Director Fitzgerald recently contacted us to let us know that she has received updated guidance from the Department of Defense regarding how DoDEA should approach budgetary uncertainty. According to this guidance, every organization must include plans for staff furloughs into its cost-savings preparations.  If furloughs become necessary, they will apply universally to all DoD employees, with few exceptions.  As a result, DoDEA is forced to expand its longer-term planning to include possible furloughs of school-level personnel. DoDEA will make its plans in such a way to avoid threatening the loss of academic credit for students.

It is important for families to realize that this new guidance does not mean that furloughs are a certainty; just that DoDEA – like other government agencies – has to be prepared for the possibility. We commend DoDEA for keeping parents and staff informed as the situation unfolds and for its commitment to providing a quality education for military children under exceptionally difficult circumstances.

However, military children should not have to pay the consequences for adults’ inability to act responsibly. We ask the Department of Defense to exempt classroom teachers and school personnel from furloughs in order to ensure that military children receive the quality education they need and expect. We also ask our Congressional leaders to work together to avert sequestration and pass the Appropriations bill so  programs serving military family members can be protected.

 

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