DOD Schools:

Funding and Operating Alternatives for Education of Dependents

HRD-87-16: Published: Dec 10, 1986. Publicly Released: Dec 10, 1986.

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In accordance with a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the methods the Department of Defense (DOD) uses to operate and fund its dependents' schools to: (1) determine the most suitable means of funding those schools; and (2) identify legal, jurisdictional, and other impediments to changing the schools' funding and operating methods.

GAO noted that DOD uses three methods to educate military dependents living on military installations, including: (1) the local operation alternative, under which funding comes from federal, state, and local governments; (2) the contract operation alternative, which allows DOD to contract with local school districts and totally fund the students' education; and (3) the coterminous operation, under which dependents' schools operate as local school districts and the Department of Education and the state share the funding. GAO found that coterminous operation was the best alternative because it would save the federal government between $44 and $88 million and would increase states' education budgets by less than one-half of 1 percent. GAO noted that, at each installation, DOD and the state education agency: (1) should negotiate the change in school funding and operating methods; (2) might arrive at an alternative more appropriate than coterminous operation; and (3) should consider and resolve employee equity issues, as well as jurisdictional and other impediments. GAO also found that: (1) transferring military dependents' schools to local school districts or establishing new coterminous districts would cause an annual reallocation of impact aid funds from other impacted districts; and (2) under the coterminous method, military school districts would receive more funds because states cannot consider federal impact aid payments when determining their funding of local school districts.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No action is currently ongoing or planned.

    Matter: For dependents' schools established through mutual agreement among federal, state, and local officials as coterminous school districts or transferred to nearby school districts, Congress may want to consider whether impact aid should be increased to ensure that local districts nationwide do not lose funds because of a reallocation of impact aid to the districts absorbing the section 6 students.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No action is currently ongoing or planned.

    Matter: If the section 6 schools are established as new coterminous districts, Congress may want to consider amending the impact aid legislation to permit the states in which such districts are established to consider a portion of impact aid payments to these districts when determining the amount of their education payments, so that overall funding levels for these schools would not significantly increase.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Education disagreed with this recommendation. While DOD initially agreed with this recommendation, after further studying the issue, it has informed Congress that it plans to take no action to transfer or otherwise change the current method of operating the schools.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Education and Defense should advocate the adoption of the new coterminous local school district alternative unless all parties agree that another alternative is more appropriate in a particular situation. The coterminous operation alternative would reduce overall federal expenditures, restore education responsibilities to the states, and minimize the direct funding and operational impact on local school districts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD has decided that transferring the schools, or any change in the current method of its operations, is not feasible.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Education and Defense should advocate the adoption of the new coterminous local school district alternative unless all parties agree that another alternative is more appropriate in a particular situation. The coterminous operation alternative would reduce overall federal expenditures, restore education responsibilities to the states, and minimize the direct funding and operational impact on local school districts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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