By James BrooksMarch 28, 2018
VICENZA, Italy - Military and Department of Defense civilian parents at Camp Darby have one more option for high school-bound students thanks to a recent decision regarding financial reimbursement coverage for boarding school attendance.
According to United States Army Garrison Italy School Liaison Officer Beth Potter, an issue raised at the Camp Darby Installation Advisory Committee led garrison leadership, Installation Management Command Europe, the Department of Defense Education Activity Non-DOD Schools Program to review Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) reimbursement rates and allow for the change in reimbursement rates.
"Since the closing of the Department of DoDEA high school at Camp Darby, high school students of active duty and DOD civilian (non-local hire) in grades 9-12 have been eligible to attend the International School in Florence. In collaboration with DoDEA's Non-DOD Schools Program (NDSP), USAG Italy and IMCOM-E sought to expand the range of viable options for families of high school students at Camp Darby. With this change, parents of high school students may now elect to apply to ISF or to attend a boarding school that is at least 50 miles away from Camp Darby," said Potter. There is no requirement that the boarding school be located in Italy.
Until this DSSR rate change, Camp Darby military community high school students had two viable options: homeschool or the one "traditional" high school option: enrollment in ISF. But because the school is an International Baccalaureate (IB) program, coursework is rigorous. Not all students are advanced learners, and some have difficulty adjusting to higher-paced programs. With more options now available, families of students who may not find the international baccalaureate program an optimal fit may seek a school option that will better accommodate their student's academic needs.
"ISF enrollment requests from Camp Darby families are increasing and have more than doubled over the past four years. Add to that an increase in other international families such as foreign contractors with Italian companies vying for a limited number of slots and we end up with more kids than space," said Potter. "As competition for acceptance into ISF is stiff and space is limited, some students may not be able to enroll due to either lack of space or academic needs that can't be met there."
Families not enrolled, whether due to lack of space or appropriate academic options for their children, were previously left with only the option to homeschool their children. While homeschooling is a viable option for some students, it may not be for everyone.
"I think this decision is a good example of how the Army garrisons, DoDEA representatives and more important, the parents, can work together to help military families stationed overseas," Potter said.
For more information on the NDSP and eligibility, please go to www.dodea.edu/non/DOD.