Dan Cohen AUTHOR Eight school districts outside Fort Leonard Wood have recorded significant gains in performance compared to two years earlier, demonstrating that the districts serving personnel at the central Missouri post have responded to the Army’s challenge to enhance school quality, according to a local group promoting the installation.During the 2014-15 school year, the eight districts combined to earn an average of 93 percent of the total points possible on the state’s annual performance reports, a 10 percent improvement compared to the 2012-2013 school year. The districts’ combined performance exceeded the state average, an analysis by the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership revealed.“We understand and appreciate the challenges set forth by our state and the Army,” said Brian Henry, superintendent of the Waynesville R-VI school district.“The schools in our area have worked together to share best practices and provide the highest quality of education for the children of our nation’s military. The Army invests a great deal in our region, and we take the responsibility educating their children very seriously,” said Henry.The close attention paid to school performance by the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership and school districts serving the families of personnel at Fort Leonard Wood follows comments made by then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno in 2013 that the service will consider school quality as one factor when making stationing decisions.Col. Andy Herbst, the Fort Leonard Wood garrison commander who is in charge of building and maintaining successful partnerships with local schools, underscored one reason why quality schools are critical to the education of military children.“It is not unusual to hear that a military child has attended four different schools in the past four years. This constant transition is why it’s important to have quality schools that offer military children valuable and diverse educational experiences,” Herbst said.Next week’s Installation Innovation Forum 2016 in Charleston, S.C., will feature an interactive discussion session on strategies communities can use to ensure their schools meet the needs of military families. The session, scheduled for Monday afternoon on Feb. 29, will include the following speakers:Jim Cowen, Director for Military Outreach, Collaborative for Student Success (moderator)John Ballantyne, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Military Child Education CoalitionChrist Ham, Chairwoman, Military Families for High StandardsLisa Monet, President, Tampa Bay Defense AllianceMike Reese, Chairman, Fort Polk ProgressDavid Gregg Athey, Garrison Commander, Fort Polk, La.Jim Estepp, Director of Operations, Andrews Business and Community AllianceBradley Hoagland, 11th Wing Commander, Joint Base Andrews, Md.