Fort Stewart’s three elementary schools are among 60 domestic Department of Defense schools to be assessed this coming year by the National Defense Research Institute (RAND).
The purpose of the CONUS Education Options Assessment is to ascertain how cost and quality can best be balanced in schools on 15 stateside military installations. Depending on the results, examiners could recommend post schools continue operating under the Department of Defense Education Activity, be supervised by the Liberty County School System or even establish charter schools. DOD schools in Guam and Puerto Rico will not be included in the study.
DODEA officials stress that the assessment has not yet begun.
“No decisions have been made,” said Elaine Kanellis, deputy chief of communications at DODEA in Peachtree City. “There are no preconceived notions.”
Liberty County School System administrators confirmed Monday that neither school-board members nor senior-level staffers have been contacted about the impending study.
Kanellis said it is too early to speculate the assessment’s outcome, adding the RAND-conducted study will be “thorough and pragmatic.” RAND will interview local education officials and work with parents, teachers and DOD school superintendents. RAND also will take into account student-performance data before determining the “best possible decisions on how to best educate students of military families,” she said.
RAND examiners will look at post schools’ classroom practices and programs, educations initiatives implemented by the states and DODEA, and study the impact of back-to-back deployments on students, families, schools and military communities, according to dodea.edu.
Kanellis said the assessment is one of several studies the DOD has facilitated over the years. Examiners’ findings and recommendations will be reviewed by senior officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the military services, sometime in late summer or fall of 2014, according to the DODEA website. Any options produced by the study likely will not be a “one size fits all” diagnosis for every school included in the assessment, Kanellis said.
DODEA schools operate at a cost of $375.7 million annually, according to dodea.edu. Along with schools on bases in Georgia, schools on military installations in Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and New York will be assessed.