The future of Fort Riley will be the subject of a town hall meeting Feb. 9 in Junction City. Barton Community College representatives plan to attend and be heard as officials from the Department of the Army listen to community members’ input on how possible personnel reductions on the base could affect them.
Fort Riley employs more than 25,000 people in the Junction City area. In a news release cited by the Associated Press, Fort Riley said as many as 16,000 could be dismissed or redeployed. The Fort Riley base is one of 30 military installations across the U.S. that could see troop reductions as a result of the federal budget cuts and personnel reductions to the Army.
A reduction of force at Fort Riley would mean a loss of enrollment at the college, which has offered courses there since 1984. It would also destabilize a relationship that benefits both the Army and the economic prosperity in the Greater Flint Hills region, college trustees stated in a letter sent to U.S. Army Environmental Command.
At a recent meeting, Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman encouraged trustees to attend the town hall, set for 3:30 p.m. at the Geary County Convention Center (Courtyard by Marriott), 310 Hammons Drive.
“Wear something that signifies you’re from Barton,” Heilman said.
Gov. Sam Brownback also plans to attend, he said.
Barton Community College started offering two basic courses to Fort Riley in 1984. Thirty-one years later, the college offers courses to Fort Riley soldiers, family members and Department of Army civilians, fully funded by the state of Kansas. This arrangement allows Barton to provide quality education and training at reduced cost to the Army. The same opportunities have been offered at Fort Leavenworth since October 2012.
BCC’s letter to the Army said the military saves millions of dollars in training and contract fees thanks the its arrangement with the college.
In terms of total classroom hours, a Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security survey for Fiscal Year 2011 determined Fort Riley Military Schools training to be second largest in United States at 11,354. Fort Hood was first with 20,000.
Offerings via Barton’s “Military Schools” programs provide 52 different technical training courses. Enrollments in 5,896 hours benefitted 4,455 soldiers in Fiscal Year 2014.
Fort Riley Leadership Skill Enhancement Courses (LSEC) enrollments were over 5,500 in Fiscal Year 2014. Fort Riley has the second largest LSEC program in the country.
The college has also received praise from a high-ranking officer for the service it provides its soldiers. Last year, Lt. Col. CJ King stated, “I am not sure there is another organization on this installation (or anywhere else that I have been stationed) that so willingly and cheerfully does as much for our Soldiers and Family members as you do for us here at Fort Riley.”
College officials have long maintained that Barton’s presence at Fort Riley has boosted enrollment at the college, which in turn has allowed the BCC to expand its services and keep the local mill levy down. According to information released by the college, the 2013 mill levy of 32.71 would have been 36.26 mills without the BCC facilities at Fort Riley, Grandview Plaza, Fort Leavenworth and BartOnline military enrollments.