Every base has one.
A School Liaison Officer.
And this person, or office, can be unbelievably valuable to your family as you PCS this summer with school-aged children.
School Liaison Officers (SLOs) are hired by the military base or local military agency to serve as a connection to local schools. That is their (almost) entire job description.
Here is a breakdown of how your local SLO can help your family!
1. Assist with finding a school that meets your family’s needs
You’ve shown up at your new duty station and have no clue where to turn for your next school. Contact your local SLO and simply ask! You might need to let them know your address, whether you are on or off base. The SLO will likely be able to guide you to a school that meets your needs.
Often SLOs have great info about which schools offer what in terms of special or gifted education services. Or how the schools compare to each other in terms of funding, opportunities, and Great Schools rankings.
SLOs can also help students outside the public school system. These knowledgeable professionals likely also have connections to various private or religious schools, and can help you with transferring your student there. With homeschooling on the rise in the military community, SLOs are probably also aware of state and local homeschool laws and statutes. In both cases, SLOs might be able to help your child receive academic services or play sports with local public schools. Totally ask! The worst they can say is “No!”
2. Help communicate with your school about education issues
Your child has an IEP or 504 Plan or was in Gifted Education at your last school. You don’t agree with a school policy or want some back-up for a parent-teacher conference. This is what your local SLO is for!
It is highly probable that your local SLO can suggest solutions that will meet everyone’s needs, and will definitely have your back in tricky situations.
3. Build a bridge between the base and local schools
Our military service members are highly trained and extremely diverse. They come from every corner of the country and globe, from every ethnic background, speaking a multitude of languages, and practice the full spectrum of religious beliefs. Creating connections between these outstanding individuals and our local schools can benefit everyone!
Some ideas to forge connections include:
- reading buddies
- community service projects
- big brother/big sister type mentorships
- student-created care packages for deployed units
- speakers for Memorial and Veterans Day
There are a few common issues almost all MilKids will deal with in K-12 education.
- courses transferring state to state
- athletic eligibility
- social connections
- broken time in school
- gaps and overlaps
- testing and grade level enrollment
- special and gifted education service placements
One of the core missions of SLOs is to figure out what the issues are for kids on their base and then work with local schools to find solutions. Then SLOs work with the school or district to educate teachers and administrators about how to work with our MilKids in the classroom.
School Liaison Officers are at every base, in every place.
And you should be using them! They can help with all of your school transition issues and concerns.
So before you pack up the moving van and hit the road this summer, give the SLO at your next base a call. Chances are they can help to smooth your school transition process right now.
Tell me about your School Liaison Officer experience!