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ARLINGTON, Va. — Matching kids with new schools is never easy, but it’s especially tough for military parents who are deployed and facing a permanent change of station when they return, or who are moving back to the United States from overseas.

To make the school transition easier, the Military Child Education Coalition has a new Web site, SchoolQuest, that lets military parents research schools for their kids in advance of moving.

The program, which opened July 12, includes information about thousands of public, private and parochial schools around major military installations in the United States, as well as Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) schools overseas.

“SchoolQuest helps parents plan in advance, so when you arrive, you know who to talk to, and your [children’s] documentation is as prepared as possible,” Mary Keller, the coalition’s executive director, told Stripes.

“We’re letting parents know that they can be empowered; that you [otherwise] can end up talking to people with that ‘deer in a headlights’ feeling,” Keller said in a Monday telephone interview from the coalition’s Harker Heights, Texas headquarters.

SchoolQuest is an interactive, personalized program that allows parents to set up private “accounts” for each of their children with information such as grade level, academic experience, sports interests and other special interests and needs.

Parents can then go use the database to generate a matching list of schools in the area they’re moving to, Stephanie Surles, SchoolQuest project manager and the coalition’s director of research and development, told Stripes.

The database “gives them information on academic and extra-curricular activities, diploma plans, grading scales, special education programs, application deadlines and up-to-date contact information for the right people to talk to,” such as counselors and administrators, Surles said. The database includes thousands of schools in and around 60 major U.S, military communities, including Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Benning, Ga. and Fort Riley, Kan., Keller said.

Parents with particularly challenging, unique situations can also apply for personalized help from the coalition’s ombudsman, “Aunt Peggie,” or Peggie Watson, Keller said. “And if it gets really complicated, we staff it,” Keller said. “So far, we haven’t been stumped.”

For more information on the Military Child Education Coalition and to access the SchoolQuest portal, go to

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