By Lolita C. Baldor Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will furlough about 15,000 military school teachers and staff around the world because of the automatic budget cuts that took effect last Friday, but spokesman George Little said Monday the department will manage the process so the schools don’t lose their accreditation.
Little said the military will also close all of the commissaries on bases around the world for one extra day each week. They are currently open six days a week.
Because the length of the school day can’t legally be shortened, teachers and staff will likely have to take one unpaid day a week off to meet the furlough requirements. The Pentagon said that each school may handle the staff shortfall differently, perhaps having classes double up or using administrators or other teachers to stand in for absent co-workers.
“We’re going to do everything we can to manage the furlough process in a manner that enables military children to receive an accredited school year for this academic year,” Little told reporters. He added that summer school also will continue to be offered.
The furloughs would affect about 8,000 teachers and 7,000 support staff in the 194 military schools around the world. The schools are located in seven states, a dozen countries, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico, and they serve about 86,000 students.
The cuts, which could run through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, will have an impact on the current school year and the one that will begin in August or September.
Shutting the nearly 250 commissaries worldwide for an additional day per week particularly affects troops stationed abroad who rely on the base stores for their daily living necessities. About 12 million people are authorized to shop in the stores, which see more than $6 billion in transactions annually.
Under the budget cuts, the Pentagon must find $46 billion in savings by the end of the fiscal year. Officials have already said that 800,000 Defense Department civilian workers will be furloughed for one day without pay each week for about 22 weeks.