Fort Knox community shocked at closure of four schools

FORT KNOX, Ky. (WDRB) -- Half the schools at Fort Knox will close at the end of the school year after the deactivation of the last combat brigade results in the loss of thousands of families.

"It's a traumatic event," said Fort Knox Community Schools Superintendent Frank Calvano.

In the military you get used to change. The sorrow of deployment or the joy of a reunion helps soldiers and their families develop resiliency.

Superintendent Frank Calvano says it's a skill they may need now more than ever at Fort Knox Community Schools.

"We're going to lose approximately 750 students and that involves closing four schools as well as laying off approximately 130 employees," Calvano said.

Students will no longer attend Mudge, Pierce or Kingsolver Elementary schools or Walker Intermediate after this school year.

The closure follows the Department of Defense's decision to deactivate the 3rd Combat Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, moving 3,500 soldiers and their families off the post.

"The students will be receiving the same education they have in the past. The programs will remain the same. The teacher ratios will remain the same but for the staff this is a tremendous shock," Calvano said.

The loss goes far beyond the schools here at Fort Knox because surrounding school districts  have been told they will be losing children too whose parents are tied to the post.

In Hardin County, that translates in 540 kids not coming back to class.

"It's not a substantial impact at one single school -- it ends up spreading out throughout the district," said Hardin County School SUperintendent Nanette Johnston. "Just across the district we're looking at a reduction of about 35 staff members."

Leaders say Fort Knox marks the first mass closure for Defense Department's Domestic

Dependent Elementary and Secondary School system tied to this larger effort to reduce the U.S. military force.

The goal is to shrink the military to about 450,000 active duty soldiers over the next five years.

The Defense Department spends about $375 million annually to operate its schools.

Some teacher jobs may be saved through attrition, early retirement  or reassignment to other installations, possibly overseas.

With many parents just getting word Wednesday, Calvano says resiliency will be key.

He admits he's concerned for the future at Fort Knox.

"Will the post grow or will it be bracked (that is closed)? I don't know."

The closure will shrink the Fort Knox school enrollment to about 1,350 students and leaves one elementary, one intermediate, one middle and one high school left on post.

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