WASHINGTON – If budget cuts roll on in coming years, Department of Defense schools are going to face tough choices, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told military educators on Tuesday.
Hagel, speaking at a training seminar of the Military Child Education Coalition held near Washington, said DOD has done what it could to shield the Department of Defense Education Activity from the worst ravages of sequestration. That included giving principals leeway to arrange staff furloughs so the schoolyear is not disrupted, and school accreditations are not threatened. Officials also took steps to protect special testing required for graduation or advanced college credit.
In addition, DOD teachers face up to five days of furlough while most other DOD employees could be furloughed for 11 days.
But with Congress seemingly making little or no headway in ending the underlying budget disagreements that led to sequestration - $37 billion in automatic defense budget cuts this year – DODEA is not out of the woods, Hagel said. While he didn’t hint at what future cuts could look like if sequestration kicks in again next year, he warned educators: be prepared.
“While there are efforts to replace sequester, there is no guarantee they will be successful,” Hagel said. “We teach our kids to plan ahead, to be prepared. We tell them proper planning prevents poor performance. We must live that lesson as well.”