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S.C. legislation aids JB CHS Airmen and families

Posted 6/29/2010   Updated 6/29/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by 2nd Lt. Susan Carlson
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs


6/29/2010 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- For families moving to Joint Base Charleston this summer, life just got a whole lot easier with the passing of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children in South Carolina on June 11.

"This is a really big win for our kids," said Elsa Summers, Community Readiness Technician for the Joint Base Charleston Airmen and Family Readiness Center.

According to the Compact information paper, the new legislation "allows for the uniform treatment, at the state and local district level, of military children transferring between school districts and states."

"[The Compact] covers a lot of things, from graduation and placement to state coordination ... the actual impact is huge," said Mrs. Summers.

Currently, 32 states have passed the Compact, making it the law for individual schools and school districts to work with military families in facilitating enrollment eligibility for incoming students in different areas. The Compact affects both military families moving from state-to-state as well as families with deployed members.

On average, a military dependent child will attend six to nine different school systems between kindergarten and 12th grade. Often, students entering a new school in a different district are not properly enrolled nor are they placed in appropriate classes because their transcripts are delayed in arrival.

"When families move, they don't always have all of the official transcripts, so the schools will place them where they think they fit best," said Mrs. Summers. "This really [ensures] there is an emphasis on getting those transcripts to the school in a timely fashion so [the student] won't be put in a level that's too low or too high."

In addition, the Compact allows for exemptions for certain classes potentially required for graduation. For example, state history is usually needed and often students end up taking multiple versions of this class to meet each different state's requirement, often delaying graduation.

One of the largest benefits the Compact provides is leeway on school absences for families with deployed members.

For families like that of Jodi Rauls, a key spouse in one of JB CHS's flying squadrons, and mother of two young daughters, the extra flexibility means a lot. Children whose parent or legal guardian is on leave, immediately returning from or about to go on a deployment are permitted additional excused absences in order to spend time with their family.

"I couldn't believe that here, they counted that kind of an absence as an unexcused absence," said Mrs. Rauls.

Mrs. Rauls was excited to learn that with this new legislation, as long as students make up their work, they will not be penalized for these types of absences.

Here at JB CHS, the Airman and Family Readiness Center has been keeping everyone as informed as possible about the new legislation. The center has kept both base leadership as well as key spouses aware of the status of this piece of legislation. For those families moving to South Carolina, this legislation has a huge impact on their school age children.

"Families can benefit from [the compact], that's the important part, and creating that awareness is essential, as well as highlighting the areas that will impact [military families] the most," said Mrs. Summers.

This enactment has come at a perfect time as the Air Force moves into the summer months and permanent change of station is prevalent for many Air Force families. The Compact was passed in the last weeks of the congressional session, just before they closed for the summer. The legislation will go into effect July 1, which is ideal for families PCSing to South Carolina.

"It's a really good thing for our families," explained Mrs. Summers. "It's important that they know there are some provisions for their kids."

The Interstate Compact had been in the works for two years, and was initially brought to the table in July of 2008 when 10 states agreed to sign the legislation making it law. South Carolina became the 32nd state to sign the Compact, thus affecting more than 2,100 school-age children that are military dependents on JB CHS.

The driving factor for this Compact was the Military Child Organization Coalition. This organization, which has been in existence for 10 years, advocates for military children and their families.

"They were really the ones that started this whole thing, that is such an awesome organization for any military parent to know about and to get involved with," said Mrs. Summers.

Their website has a multitude of information on deployment education and family relocation. For more information on this Compact and other military child services please visit www.militarychild.org.



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