Education System Learns Hard Lesson
December 11, 2009
- "Had it not been for the Garrison Model Intern Program, we would not have had these two high-performing employees on our staff."
- "There have been at least 44 percent up to 60 percent in budget cuts (to ACES in fiscal 2009) that have impacted and been disruptive."
- The Education Center's mission is to provide education services primarily to military personnel.
- "We provide remedial through graduate-level work to meet the needs of Soldiers in order for them to reach their educational goals."
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--This has been a tough year for the Army education system.
The Army Continuing Education System lost its contractor employees worldwide in November after a contract dispute. Contractors represented about 60 percent of the system's work force. The only places unaffected were in Europe because their contract wasn't up for bids.
At Redstone's Education Center, five of seven workers were lost. The Garrison reduced the impact by providing two interns, bringing the center's staff to four.
"Had it not been for the Garrison Model Intern Program that we established, we would not have had these two high-performing employees on our staff," Garrison human resources director Joe Winston said.
Fortunately, the contract dispute was resolved Friday and the contractors returned to work Dec. 7.
The interns, Amelia Flournoy and Cassandra Patton, joined Army civilians Charles Williams and DeLesia Harris in November. Williams is the education services officer for Redstone, under the Directorate of Human Resources. Harris, an education services specialist, was hired Nov. 9 from Fort Monmouth, N.J., and started Nov. 12.
Army Personnel Testing -- provided for Soldiers in such areas as language proficiency, the Armed Forces Classification Test and proctored college exams - was temporarily on hold because the test examiner was among the five employees lost Nov. 6. The others included a counselor, administrative support, multi-use learning facility coordinator and a basic skills instructor.
"All of our functions have resumed (effective Dec. 7)," Williams said.
Dr. Grey Edwards is chief of the Army Continuing Education System for the Fort Benning, Ga., hub which includes Fort McPherson, Ga., Fort Rucker, Redstone Arsenal, Camp Shelby, Miss., and Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
"There have been at least 44 percent up to 60 percent in budget cuts (to ACES in fiscal 2009) that have impacted and been disruptive during this period we've had to deal with," Edwards said. "But DA civilians have jumped in. Everybody was working above and beyond. But it's been disruptive. This is the piece they're still trying to work through. Then you throw in a work stoppage; that just exacerbates the situation."
The Installation Management Command attributed the ACES' imbalance in contractors to government ratio - about one-third government workers to two-thirds contract staff - as a legacy of manpower cuts in fiscal 2005-06. IMCOM's plan for correcting the imbalance is through a fiscal 2012 concept which will flip the ratio to two-thirds government.
The Education Center's mission is to provide education services primarily to military personnel. It also serves family members, retirees, Army civilians and contractors. Its clients include deployed Soldiers, too. The center served 585 customers in November. Its service area ranges from "Birmingham, Ala., north to the Tennessee border and from the Georgia state line west to the Mississippi River," said Williams, who was a product of the Army education system as a Soldier.
"We provide remedial through graduate-level work," Edwards said, "to meet the needs of Soldiers in order for them to reach their educational goals."
"We are able to provide services to all customers," Winston said.
The Education Center, building 3222 on Snooper Road, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Its phone number is 876-9761.