Education A Washington Roundup

DOD Study of School Closings Raises Questions, GAO Says

By Christina A. Samuels — May 10, 2005 1 min read

A federal study that recommended closing Department of Defense-run schools on 10 military bases is often unclear in stating how a panel of consultants reached its conclusions, according to an analysis by the Government Accountability Office.

The report, “Limitations in DOD-Sponsored Study on Transfer Alternatives Underscore Need for Additional Assessment,” is available from the GAO.

In 2002, the Defense Department began an assessment of its domestic schools, which educate about 24,000 children in preschool through 12th grade at a current annual cost of $367 million. Schools on overseas military bases were not included in the study. A three-member panel was convened to independently assess data and make recommendations.

According to the April 26 GAO report, the study panel’s report to the Defense Department “sometimes raised more questions than it answered.” For instance, in one case, the panel suggested closing a military base’s schools and moving the children to a local school district that was underperforming, when another nearby district had higher test scores and lower per-pupil costs.

In addition, the panel’s recommendation was made before some new issues that would affect military bases arose, including plans to move 70,000 military personnel and 100,000 family members from overseas postings back to the United States, the GAO notes.

The Defense Department has said it would not make any decisions about closing the schools until decisions on the next round of military-base realignments and closures were made later this year.