A top Pentagon official has acknowledged that the Defense Department is more than $1 billion short of what’s needed to repair decrepit public schools on military bases that were the subject of a recent iWatch News investigation.
The official, Jo Ann Rooney, principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in an interview with iWatch News that the Pentagon will be able to start renovating or replacing only about a dozen of the public schools on bases with the $250 million that Congress appropriated this year for the upgrades. A recent Pentagon report, however, found that about 62 of the 160 civilian-run schools are in “poor” or “failing” condition.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done. Two hundred and fifty million dollars will not cover it,” Rooney said. “Depending on whether there is additional money coming forward, I can’t predict when those next group of schools would actually be addressed.”
An investigation by iWatchNews in June found that many of the schools attended by children of military personnel are in poor shape. Where military children go to school depends on circumstances often beyond families’ control. More than 500,000 children, the largest proportion, live off base, attending local schools in urban or suburban communities that often have significantly more resources.
But families who live on military installations — either for economic, career or security reasons — send their children to one of 194 base schools operated by the Pentagon around the world, or 160 base schools in the U.S. operated by local school districts.