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This chapter reviews KISD's community relations and communications efforts in five sections:

A. Organization
B. Internal and External Communications
C. Volunteer Programs and Community Relations
D. Military Initiatives
E. Print Services

MILITARY INITIATIVES

Although military personnel's children are constantly faced with transition, they should be guaranteed a quality education. KISD administrators have embraced the challenges posed by these students and have worked closely with Fort Hood command staff to transition students into the district smoothly.

Killeen has a significant military presence and has grown into the largest active duty armored post in the United States Armed Forces. Fort Hood is the largest single-location employer not only in Killeen, but also in the State of Texas with 41,000 soldiers and approximately 5,800 civilians working on the base. Fort Hood pumps millions of dollars into the community in military and civilian pay, contracts, and local purchases. According to the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, the post has a direct annual financial impact of $2.1 billion on the local area with a total annual economic impact of $3.7 billion.

Half of KISD's 28,000 students come from Fort Hood. KISD has experienced a tremendous amount of growth, attributable in large measure to the growth of Fort Hood. The district has grown from approximately 22,870 students during the 1989-90 school year to 28,539 students in the 1998-99 school year-a 25 percent increase. Exhibit 3-9 presents a breakdown of KISD's 10-year enrollment for both military and civilian students.

Exhibit 3-9
KISD Student Enrollment, 1989-99
(Military and Non-Military Students)

picture
Source: KISD Superintendent's Office

FINDING

The Fort Hood 2000 Program is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Army at Fort Hood, local municipalities, and the eight independent school districts in the surrounding area of which KISD is the largest. The Fort Hood 2000 Program patterns many of its goals from the National Military Goals 2000- Educate America Act. Major goals for the National Military Goals 2000-Educate America Act include:

  • Promote graduation
  • Assist school districts in keeping schools safe and drug free
  • Encourage parent participation

From broad initiatives developed by the National Military Goals 2000: Educate America Act, Fort Hood staff works closely with 10 education-related programs, which are administered by KISD and serve all district students. Exhibit 3-10 summarizes the Fort Hood 2000 Programs.

Exhibit 3-10
Fort Hood 2000 Programs
Program Description
Adopt-A-School
  • Teams up battalion-size military units with local schools.
  • Improves students' education through unit and soldier involvement.
Parent Involvement
  • Requires military parents with children the opportunity to attend scheduled parent/teacher conferences during the day while on duty assignments.
Drug Abuse Resistance Education
  • Teaches elementary and middle school students the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Uses trained and certified Military Police officers.
  • Teaches self-esteem, decision making, and assertiveness.
Camp 2000
  • Holds summer camp for 3 days at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area.
  • Teaches and reinforces leadership skills, discusses drug and alcohol issues, team building, and recreational activities.
Teacher Preparation Certification
  • Identifies and screens potential teacher candidates from Fort Hood.
  • Attracts candidates and expedites the transition from soldier to teacher.
  • Orients and trains candidates and establishes placement network.
Math and Science Spectrum
  • Promotes long term student interest in math and science. The Mobile Discovery Center is made up of the following components: Mobile Theater, Mobile Classroom, Mobile Exhibit Hall with Science Demonstrations.
Helping One Student to Succeed (HOST) Program
  • Targets "At Risk" students. HOST is made up of soldier, civilian, retiree and family member volunteers.
Computers to Schools
  • Allows Fort Hood to donate obsolete computers slated for retrograde to local schools free of charge. A total of $1.5 million dollars worth of equipment has been donated since the program began in 1992.
Communities in Schools (CIS)
  • Provides parenting programs, TAAS tutoring, educational field trips, individual case management, supportive guidance, home visits, referrals to other agencies, summer programs, job placement, scholarships, camps, seasonal activities, and summer jobs. CIS is a local, private, nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the drop-out rate among at-risk students. CIS currently serves 3 counties, 6 districts and 26 campuses. As of January 1999, Communities in Schools is the tenth subprogram of Fort Hood 2000.
Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC)
  • Promotes partnerships and networking between school districts and military bases to address transition and other education issues related to the military child.
Source: KISD Communications Office Services.

Fort Hood and KISD both promote strong communication and positive interaction. All teachers and administrators were briefed on the deployment of troops to Bosnia during the months between October and December 1998. Each KISD school has a designated contact person for involvement with Army Family Team Building (AFTB), which provides a basic overview of the Army and Operation READY (Resources for Educating About Deployment and You). Through Operation Ready, district staff is provided information about pre-and post-deployment. Fort Hood chaplains worked with KISD counselors to develop strategies to deal with grief and family transition as troops return from deployment.

Fort Hood leadership promotes involvement in the educational process because they believe that parents who are involved in their child's education can help schools make the most out of students' educational experience. A letter supporting parent-teacher conferences designating the conference as the soldier's point of duty is issued annually from the Fort Hood Commander.

COMMENDATION

KISD works closely with Fort Hood to foster strong communication and to administer a wide range of educational support programs that benefit all students in the district.

FINDING

In 1997, KISD's superintendent, with support from Fort Hood, formed the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC). Its purpose is to provide networking channels for military installations and address relocation and other educational issues for military children. The coalition includes U. S. military installations and affected public school systems as well as schools served by the Department of Defense Dependent Education Activity.

KISD's board provided $90,000 to start MCEC and allowed the district to serve as fiscal agent until the organization could be self-supporting. MCEC is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Charter members pay $750 and regular members pay annual dues of $1,500. In August 1999, MCEC became self-supporting from memberships and corporate and foundation grants.

The superintendent serves on MCEC's national advisory committee and the assistant superintendent for Education Services (Area 1) chairs the organization.

MCEC's objectives are to:

  • Establish a common procedure for the efficient transfer and interpretation of student records.
  • Promote common understanding and interpretation of the curricula and programs within schools supporting military installations.
  • Develop a means of common communication between school systems.
  • Encourage and support strong partnerships between school systems and military installations.
  • Inform parents and provide access to information about school systems and requirements.

MCEC and KISD have websites that are linked. Using the Army Times 1998 edition of the Guide to Military Installations in the U.S., a listing of 200 military bases, posts and stations including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, MCEC has initiated an ongoing effort to introduce the coalition to all interactive web sites.

For example, KISD's Internet website is frequently used by military personnel around the world who are requesting information about the district's educational services. KISD supplies information about enrollment, programs, and services, assessment for services, so little time is wasted in placing the children when the family arrives in Killeen.

In addition to the initiatives noted above, the MCEC has been involved with the following:

  • Conducting annual conferences to promote networking - Since the inception of the organization, MCEC has held an annual conference to keep members apprised of programs and services. The 1999 conference was held at Offutt Airforce Base in Nebraska. During the three-day conference, workshops were held to find solutions to issues about varying schedules and calendars when students relocate from one district to another, differences in courses and credits in school districts, and more efficient transfer of student records.
  • Conducting formal research about the impact of student transition - KISD was selected by the United States Army to coordinate a study to obtain an in-depth understanding of how school systems that support identified Army installations accommodate and respond to the educational needs of transitioning high school (grades 9-12) military students. The Army invited the public school systems that support the seven largest Army installations as well as selected Department of Defense systems in Germany and Korea to participate in the study. The study is limited to students that have transitioned at least one time during the high school years. The research began in March 1999 and will conclude in December 2000. As the study coordinator, MCEC will assemble the findings of the study for publication.
  • Encouraging local action plans to facilitate improved academic performance - Through its involvement with the MCEC, KISD and Fort Hood encourage initiation of local action planning (LAP) to support the smooth transition of students in military families. The Killeen/Fort Hood LAP is provided oversight and direction through the efforts of KISD employees and both military and civilian representatives from Fort Hood. Academic support centers (ASCs) or transition labs are located at each high school and are staffed with at least one full-time teacher. The purpose of the ASC or transition lab is to ensure that students do not lose credit when they enroll in KISD and to accelerate instruction, if needed, when they leave the district. An ASC teacher works with transitioning military families.

COMMENDATION

The district leads a national coalition to improve educational services for military families.