Military leaders, community aim to reach solution on Furlough Fridays
December 22, 2009
SCHOFIELDAca,!E+BARRACKS, Hawaii - The Joint Venture Education Forum (JVEF) is a cooperative venture between the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) military community and the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) serving to advance the military community's responsibility in the pursuit of quality education for public school students in Hawaii.
The JVEF board is co-chaired by the Superintendent of Education and senior military officers representing all branches of service, leaders from the DOE, state Senate and House chairpersons of education, and select business leaders.
For the past 10 years, this partnership has promoted interaction between the military community and state educators where issues of importance to the education of our military children and the public school system can be raised and resolved together.
The forum encourages a positive learning environment and high quality educational opportunity for Hawaii's children with approximately $5.5 million in military-school partnership appropriations.
The military leadership in Hawaii has been engaged with select leaders on Furlough Friday issues out of the public eye. However, at the last JVEF board meeting, Dec. 10, at the Oahu Veterans Center, the military expressed its concerns about the education of its 90,000 school-age children, and the impact of Furlough Fridays. The military is concerned about Hawaii having the shortest school year of any state and how it impacts students.
"Taking away 17 furlough days or 10 percent of the school year as a solution to the funding challenge is not acceptable. The impact of Furlough Fridays on the quality of education for our children in Hawaii is of great concern and importance to the entire military community," said Lt. Col. Richard Gledhill, JVEF board member and commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Oahu, who coordinates and integrates base operations support for all Oahu Army installations.
When the local newspapers announced that the Board of Education (BOE) was filing to restore instructional time, the military had hope. But, after closer review, the military felt the waiver action by the BOE appeared misleading.
"Actually only 17 percent of all the available days were requested to be converted back to instructional days. Of our 54 heavily impacted military schools, only eight schools chose to convert one day to an instructional day, five schools converted two days, and three schools converted three days back to instructional days" Gledhill said. "Let's at least have dialogue about issues and stop calling them misperceptions as if they don't exist except in our imagination."
He stressed that Furlough Fridays are very real to the military community. The military wants to look for possible solutions from a perspective of what is best for all of Hawaii's children.
A motion was made by Gledhill for JVEF board members to draft a letter addressed to key stakeholders regarding the impacts of furlough days and their resulting loss of instruction days. This motion was seconded by retired Col. John Penebacker, BOE and unanimously supported by Rep. Mark Takai, and the remaining board members. This letter would urge decisive and constructive dialogue to end this education crisis. JVEF is currently working to draft this letter to be published by the first of the year.