CAMP SMITH, Hawaii - The furlough of public school teachers has the potential to displace as many as 14,000 military students attending Hawaii public schools for 17 or 21 furlough days for the 10- or 12-month school year.

To help mitigate the impact on these students of military families, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) sponsored a working session for its service components and the Coast Guard, Oct. 7, to address the issue. Services organized teams from their respective Child and Youth organizations, Morale Recreation and Welfare administrators, and other members of their choosing.

Commanders and service members have every reason to be very concerned that the education of our students will be degraded by the furlough decisions; nearly 10 percent of the students' contact time with teachers has been eliminated.

The objective will be to find ways to work together to provide appropriate alternatives that will meet the needs of military children from kindergarten through twelfth grade during furlough days.

"We had no prior notice," said Col. Mike Davino, director of Manpower, Personnel, and Administration for USPACOM, "so we are gearing up as quickly as possible. The first furlough day is scheduled Oct. 23rd."

The furlough is a two-year agreement.

Quality education in Hawaii has long been a recruitment and retention issue, and some of our commands and units are concerned that the furlough may influence families to try and avoid an assignment in Hawaii.