Officials at Robins AFB, Ga., announced last week that the base’s elementary school will be shutting its doors for good at the conclusion of the current academic year after 45 years of educating children from kindergarten through the sixth grade. Col. Warren Berry, commander of the 78th Air Base Wing, said at a press conference Dec. 3 the decision was “bittersweet,” but necessary due to sharply declining enrollment. “This school has been part of our on-base community for quite a number of years,” he said. He added, “It has a lot of history and a lot of character so that’s hard to give up.” The children will be transferred to schools in the local community. The steep dip in enrollment at Robins Elementary School—from 448 students in 2003 to 131 this year—is due to the shift away from on-base housing in recent years. No decision has been made on what the school building might be used for. Robins is not alone in facing declining student enrollments in on-base schools. For example, drawdowns to base personnel at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., as a result of BRAC 2005, are causing the Air Force to consider consolidating that location’s two on-base schools. (Includes Robins report by Wayne Crenshaw)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.