BRAC impacts Lowndes County schools - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

BRAC impacts Lowndes County schools

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May 18, 2005

Valdosta - Most Lowndes County schools are at full capacity now, some are already overcrowded. And when Moody Air Force Base realigns and gains nearly 600 new personnel, enrollment is expected to skyrocket. "I think most of those men and women will have families and school aged children," said Dr. Steve Smith, Lowndes Superintendent.

The Department of Defense recommended that Moody get about 50 A-10 Warhog jets Pope and Eielson Air Force Bases, along with a new maintenance facility for the aircraft. The base will lose its air education and training program, but school leaders don't expect that to affect enrollment. "It consists of mainly young pilots who are likely not to have families," said Smith.

The new mission will likely bring in at least 1,000 new students. So what are school leaders doing to prepare for the growth? "We project building two elementary schools, we also anticipate building another middle school, and we're also contemplating the building of a smaller second high school," said Smith.

But these changes aren't just needed to accommodate the additional personnel at the base. "Moody is building some off base housing that will bring some families from the city to the county and we're also seeing phenomenal growth in the housing market in the northern part of Lowndes County," said Smith.

The realignment will cause a ripple effect for the area's economy, since more jobs at Moody brings more students into the school system, and that brings more jobs for educators. "With the new students we need more teachers and more facilities means more custodians, more clerical and administrative help," said Smith.

School leaders still aren't sure where all the new facilities will be built, but the new schools should be operational in the next five years.

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