< big places are going to have to go because there's no little ones to close anymore, that's all happened, it's all been done >
Tonight... Talking about BRAC... Base closures...and what that could mean for Central Georgia.
Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us.
I'm Frank Malloy.
And I'm Leah Johnson.
We begin with that discussion about how defense money.... Can affect us... More specifically, those tied to Robins Air Force Base.
Jennifer Moulliet spoke to someone with firsthand experience of the base realignment and closure process.
I spoke with Retired Army General James Hill... Who was a member of the 9 member BRAC commission... And helped decide which installations got the ax in 2005.
Because he'd only been in town a day... He didn't want to speculate how Robins Air Force Base would stack up against another BRAC... Possibly in 20-15... But he did say he thinks the installation will be carefully scrutinized... And says Robins will be compared to the other two air logistics centers... In Oklahoma and Utah.
He says a way to get the commission to understand the need for Robins air force base.. Is to prove that without it... The country would lose critical components of national defense.
He explains how the community in Clovis New Mexico saved Cannon Air Force Base.. In 2005.
<it was the community that said to the commission if you close cannon you're going to lose the ability to x training areas, you're going to lose cross country flight, low country flight things that you can't duplicate anywhere else and those things are essential. That did cause us to really take a hard look at the need for cannon and the reality is once the commission voted to keep cannon air force base it grew in size it didn't decrease in size >
<if we're going to compress ourselves from three to two for example the one you're going to close down is the one that can't expand, because somebody is going to have to grow if Warner Robins went away today as an installation my suspicion is the workload has to go somewhere else. >
So as we explore this issue.... We're asking... What is BRAC?
BRAC is the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
It's created by congress...whenever it decides it's deemed necessary.
The last time was 2005.
Pentagon leaders say it is highly likely the next BRAC Commission will be in 2015.
The commission's job is to provide an objective, non-partisan, and independent review of military installations... recommended for possible closure by the Department of Defense.
So who makes up that commission?
Nine members - 3 appointed by the president, 3 by the senate, 3 by the house.
What do they look for?
The commission looks at factors like a base's military value...its current and future mission capabilities.. and the land availability.
They also examine the potential costs and savings at a base...and its economic impact.
That 2005 BRAC did have an impact on Georgia bases.
The biggest job losses were at Fort McPherson in East Point, Fort Gillem in Forest Park and Naval Air Station Atlanta in Marietta. All three were closed.
Columbus' Fort Benning, Moody AFB in Valdosta and Robins Air Force Base also saw significant job gains or losses.
That's a breakdown, Leah... As we look ahead to 2015...some historical perspective for you.
We should note... in the five previous BRACs, ....Robins has never made the list of potential installations for closure.
For a couple of weeks....the Bibb county school board has been discussing a plan to eliminate 97 positions.
Last night the board approved the plan...leaving just eight people without jobs.
Katelyn Heck Joins us from the newsroom to explain the math.
That's right, Frank.
The deadline to eliminate positions... Was today.
So that means, when the school board met last night... Executive committee members faced a crunch.
Here's what happened.
The school board voted on 24 and a half... Of the 97 proposed job cuts last night.
That only included certified employees like teachers... Vice principals... And counselors.
After saving 9 counselor spots... They cut 15 and a half jobs total.
They tried to place some of those people in other district jobs... But 8 of them did not qualify and were let go.
Those reductions and more Budget cuts by the Bibb County school board... could mean even bigger losses for some schools.
Rutland Middle employees say they have a lot at stake... As the district works out a way to handle an 18 million dollar deficit.
Developing a business plan... Not something many accomplish before leaving middle school... But these Rutland Middle students are...
When the Bibb school district tacked on an extra thirty minutes of learning a day for the 2012-2013 school year... Some used it as an 'enrichment' period for students... But Rutland Middle principal Richard Key had a different idea...
<we had 25 minutes we had already assigned to an advisement period where kids were working with teachers and going there every day, but that 25 minutes wasn't as well used as I felt it could have been. but adding that 25 minutes to the extra thirty minutes a day gave just enough time for an extra class period.>
Creating time for classes like this one... A career development course... And others like remedial and gifted classes.
Though some core teachers now have 5 classes a day instead of 4... It's an addition some... Like reading teacher Natalie Puckett... Say is worth the extra workload.
<last year we had to see them every other day and they did not make significant gains, because it was half the time. Having the extra period, I see them every day for 50 to 60 minutes, and i've actually had 16 percent of my students exceed expectations on the CRCT this year.>
Key says his plan isn't just boosting test scores.
<it generated a lot of income for the school system also because we increased FTE>
That's because the more courses offered... And hours teaching... Brings in more money from the state.
Key couldn't say exactly how much money Rutland Middle is adding to the district... but it's not a lot compared to the 18 million dollar deficit the school board is trying to handle.
Some of their suggestions include cutting teachers... Key says he's lost 3 and a half.
Also... increasing class sizes... But using a district-wide 27 and a half average as a guide.
<if you're looking at my class sizes being 25, 26 pretty much throughout the school. They're that low because I have an extra period in the day. If I lose more teachers, I wont be able to provide that same level of service. I may have to go back to reducing that period in the day, which would inherently increase class sizes for me because of not having the same number of teachers teaching each period. If that's not factored in to raising class sizes... Then my class sizes could be higher than others.>
Key says he's still trying to keep his programs in place... But continued budget talks by the school board... may change that.
Katelyn Heck 13WMAZ Eyewitness News
The school board has until the end of June to approve a budget.
And what could happen then?
Bottom line, Frank... The board has around 18 million dollars to make up. Much of their expenses are in the area of staffing.
Even with the decisions reached last night, there's still a gap. Members ended up with an additional 63 more job cuts that could be coming.
We'll keep following this story for updates.
Thank you, very much, Katelyn Heck.
If you saw something unusual flying around recently in rural eastman, there's no need to worry ...
As 13WMAZ's Tom George found out, it's all part of a project funded by NASA...
Drones flying over Eastman....
...But don't worry, they weren't spies ... And no, Dodge County isn't under attack..
These planes have a different purpose...
< PTERA really exists for the betterment of mankind ... To make manned airplanes be greener and safer.>
It's all part of a million dollar project from Kennesaw-based Areai to test planes along with a grant from NASA.
< What we're trying to do with this is re-create a full size working aircraft. We've got turbines, we've got all the working control surfaces. It's basically like a small passenger jet. >
It's called the PTERA. They've been launching flights out of Middle Georgia State College's airport... testing speed, wind, and other situations real pilots might face.
< The idea behind that being if you want to put a plane into a less than ideal situation, it doesn't require a pilot.>
And they're doing it all with the help of Middle Georgia State students and faculty in the aviation department.
< You know, just being able to get and do it and put your hands on it .. It's better than anything you're going to learn in the classroom I feel like.>
< Now talk about a high-pressure internship .. The students at Middle Georgia State actually use this model here to make the PTERAS for NASA, so the work they're actually doing is used ... They're gonna be making two more of them by the end of the year. >
Valuable lessons for students....
< Being able to put that you got done projects for NASA on your resume is a good thing.>
And taking technology to new heights...
< It's a blast, i've enjoyed every second of it. Even waking up at 4 o'clock in the morning for safety briefings .. It's all worth it.>
In Eastman, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
The college drone program costs about 1 million dollars. Some of that money comes from NASA and the state.
And if you wanted your own drone like the one we just showed you... Middle Georgia State's Chad Dennis says it could cost up to a quarter million dollars.
The new Peach County Regional Medical Center is scheduled to be completed in June.
The hospital will move from Fort Valley to Byron.
To celebrate ...The medical center will hold a road race to symbolize the journey from the old to the new Saturday morning.
Austin Lewis has more on what to expect.
The open road means escape for runners like Roberta Peramenter...
<Roberta Peramenter, Warner Robins: Being on the road it's the surroundings, it's getting out of the house out of the gym and you get a huge satisfaction when you are done. >
That satisfaction...is the same way that administrators say they are feeling...now that the new Peach Regional Medical Center in Byron is nearing completion.
So why not celebrate....the road to the new hospital.
<Ellen Terrell:I think the race is interesting because it is from point to point it starts at the old hospital and runs to the new hospital so I think that has been exciting for people. >
Terrell says they expect nearly 200 runners to hit the pavement for nearly 8 miles... Saturday morning...moving from one point of Peach County to the other.
But they won't do it alone...Peach County Sheriff's entire department will be out there
...Along with other law enforcement...to monitor traffic and safety.
<Major Kenny Cameron, Peach County Sheriff's Office: We've conducted a threat assessment and we will have people looking for whatever is out of place. >
The money collected from the race will go toward the new hospital.
Terrell says it could help bring stained glass windows...to the new medical center's chapel...or a serenity garden.
<Ellen Terrell: Several other upgraded pieces of equipment... that were sorta on our wish list to raise money for through the capital campaign.>
Terrell says this road will provide challenges for runners with the hills on Highway 247...and the distance.
<Ellen Terrell:It's sort of a challenging race, it's a 12.5 K >
But Terrell says the race...like the new facility is well worth the journey.
Austin Lewis 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
It's 25 dollars for those who register now... or the day of the race.
The race will start at 7:30 Saturday morning ... and for those of you who are not runners... the one mile stroll will start at 8 a-m.