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Compact affects military children

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- In 2008, Colorado adopted the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children in to its legislation and joined 46 other states and the District of Columbia. The compact is designed to ensure military children have the educational opportunities they deserve when they are moving from state to state.

According to the resolution declaring the compact, "it is important that family members of the military have the same access to procedures that will assist in facilitating the qualification and eligibility for enrollment, educational programs, and participation in extracurricular academic, athletic, and social activities."

Although the compact has been in effect for several years now, Jena Bienia, community support coordinator and school liaison for the Ellicott School District, feels it's something more people should be aware of, whether they have children in school or supervise someone who does.

"The compact allows for the uniform treatment of military children transferring between school districts and states," she said. "Prior to the compact, military students were often 'penalized' for entering a district too late in the year (missing deadlines for sporting and other extracurricular activities), had to repeat exit testing record transfers were delayed."

The interstate compact addresses such issues including eligibility, enrollment, placement, immunization requirements, kindergarten and first grade entrance age variances, graduation requirements, advance placements, and support for children of deployed service members.

"The provisions of the compact have had a significant impact on public schools near military bases," said Bienia. "However, all children of military families are covered regardless of their proximity to military installations. The rules grant authority and broad flexibility to local school districts regarding most of the issues that arise. If you have students in middle or high school, it certainly helps if your students' counselor is knowledgeable about the compact details."

Benefits of the compact apply year round.

"One of the critical times seems to be kindergarten. Enrollment age varies from state to state but if a military child from a sending state does so many months in kindergarten and then transfers to a state and doesn't meet the age requirement, the compact allows for flexibility with their age," said Bienia. "The other critical time is moving during the high school years. You don't want your child to repeat classes or to take exit exams that they have already taken."

Bienia recommends parents be familiar enough with the legislation to speak to their child's counselor about it.

"From my experience it is critical that counselors know the ins and outs of the compact. They are the ones looking at the students' records and ensuring they have proper credits for graduation. If for some reason their child's counselor at the middle or high-school level is unaware of the compact, I would recommend parents go up the chain of command at the school. If their base has a school liaison, I highly encourage that they call the liaison for guidance," she said.

Information about the compact can be found at www.cde.state.co.us by typing "Interstate Compact" in the search box. If you have any questions or want to know more about the compact, please call Bienia at 567-2315.

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