Heidelberg's Army Continuing Education System soldiers on despite cuts
February 18, 2010
- ACES deals with budget cuts at locations in Europe
- Despite budget cuts ACES employees continue to provide same quality service for customers
HEIDELBERG, Germany - Despite recent financial cuts to the Army Continuing Education System, U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg-area ACES workers are learning to do more with less and is remaining focused on making sure that every customer that walks through his door is helped.
Louis Dean is the manager of the Patton Barrack's education center at U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg, and right now he's also the centers only full-time employee. Besides his management duties, Dean is the education services specialist, test control officer, education counselor and he also helps to in-process and out-process Soldiers stationed here.
Part of his educational process includes informing customers about current state of educational programs and availability of services, and what customers can do to help themselves.
"When I go to an in-processing briefing, I usually tell the audience and my customers exactly what's happening," Dean said. "Our staff has been reduced because we have had some financial cuts, and the budget is limited, and there will be a bit of delay. The word that we want to get out to the community is that customers should plan ahead."
WhatAca,!a,,cs happening, said Dean, is that USAG HeidelbergAca,!a,,cs ACES is not the only agency feeling the pinch. This recent round of financial cuts, which took effect at the beginning of this fiscal year, is affecting education centers across Europe.
Ramona Kausch is the education services officer for the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern hub. She is responsible for supporting the Kaiserslautern, Mannheim and Heidelberg communities and providing counselor aide support to Soldiers assigned to Royal Air Force Menwith Hill and Royal Air Force Alconbury.
She said last year her office received $620,784 dollars for their budget, but this year the amount was reduced to $454,132.
"We used to be about 83 people in the field at education centers across Europe and now we're done to 21 authorizations and when you have that big of a cut, it's difficult when the mission hasn't gone away, our customers haven't gone away and programs haven't gone away," Kausch said. "We are still required to provide the same level of services and programs."
As Kausch and her staff continue to operate with reduced numbers, the staff members ask their customers to take time before hand to make sure that their educational records are up to date and accurate, especially if they are separating from the military. Kausch also advised customers to ensure they have all of the correct paperwork with them when they are in-processing and out-processing.
These simple things, said Kausch, can save time for educational counselors like Dean and allow more people to be helped.
As a result of financial cuts, she said she and her staff have had to look at even more ways to maximize their resources while providing the level of quality service their customers deserve and have come to expect.
Some other cost-cutting moves include consolidating the Mannheim and Heidelberg educational testing centers, reducing working hours for contractors, steering customers towards virtual counseling services and creating an alternative to help Soldiers using the functional academic skills training or FAST.
Kausch said she remains optimistic, and she echoes Dean's earlier sentiments regarding what customers can expect.
"We are here to serve the public and we will do everything that we possibly can to provide quality services and programs to our customers," she said. "But we also want everyone to understand that we are not fully staffed like we used to be, and there will be a wait period, perhaps a little longer, then they are accustomed to, or they may have to drive a little bit further to get the types of programs or services that they need ... we are asking for their patience."