One of the few things that can make life in military service more challenging than for non-military civilians is the difficulty of finding good schools during a relocation. That’s why it was welcome news to military families when Maxwell-Gunter AFB in Montgomery, AL, recently announced a new pilot program for Maxwell AFB Elementary and Middle School (E/MS) that opens its enrollment to children of active-duty members living off base.
This pilot program, provided in partnership with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), is the first of its kind in the nation to allow children grades K-8 living off base to attend school on base. The program could potentially be a game-changer for active-duty members with young families looking for a better educational environment.
Military personnel relocating to the Maxwell Airfield Base (AFB) or Gunter Annex often choose to live on base specifically so their kids can attend school there. Previously, only AFB and Gunter Annex residents were permitted to send their children to Maxwell AFB Elementary and Middle School. At the same time, personnel living off base were forced to find suitable schools for their children in the surrounding school districts. The pilot program will potentially remove this barrier to entry for the children of active-duty personnel for whom off-base housing is a more viable option.
Current Progress on the Pilot Program
Since launching the pilot program for the 2021-22 school year, Child & Youth Education Services School Liaison Robert Richert is quite optimistic about the results.
“The pilot program at Maxwell Elementary/Middle School, in my opinion, has been very successful,” says Richert. “DoDEA/MEMS’s initial goal for the pilot was 10% of current enrollment [356 students]…as of October 20, there are 56 children enrolled via the pilot program…16% of the current enrollment.”
What Maxwell AFB Parents Need to Know
While the pilot program seeks to enroll as many students living off-base as possible, there are some limitations, and acceptance into the school is not guaranteed. Here’s what parents need to know:
- Availability is limited and prioritized. “By law, DoDEA must prioritize children residing on Maxwell or Gunter before any applications from this pilot program are reviewed,” DoDEA said in a press release. “Then, based on space available at the grade level, DoDEA will select applicants for this program.” From there, DoDEA will accept applicants off-base according to priority parameters, including previously enrolled students, siblings, and families living within a specified radius of the base.
- Openings are reserved for active-duty personnel only. “To be eligible, children must be dependents of an active duty member, with orders to Maxwell Air Force Base or Gunter Annex, who reside off the installation,” said DoDEA.
- No transportation is provided for students living off-base. Parents will have to arrange transportation for their kids onto the base to attend school.
Other School Options for Military Children Living Off Base
Since space is limited and an application is not a guarantee of enrollment, DoDEA encourages parents to make sure their children are also enrolled in a local school of their choice. The Montgomery area does offer many high-quality school alternatives in the area. There are four public school districts surrounding Maxwell AFB, all of which have been certified by Cognia, one of the most respected accrediting organizations in the country:
- Autauga County Schools – serving the communities of Prattville, Dosterville, and vicinity.
- Elmore County Schools – serving the communities of Millbrook, Elmore, Wetumka, and others.
- Montgomery Public Schools – serving the Greater Montgomery area.
- Pike Road Schools –serving the coveted community of Pike Road southeast of Montgomery.
More Choices for Military Families Stationed at Maxwell AFB
If early results of the Maxwell AFB E/MS pilot program are any indication, military families can now feel more comfortable with housing options off base, knowing their children have more opportunities for quality education.
If you’re relocating to the Montgomery area to be stationed at Maxwell AFB, you might consider buying a new construction home in the area rather than trying to live on base or attempting to find an acceptable rental in a highly competitive market.
Lowder New Homes regularly works with military families, offering special incentives for active-duty personnel and veterans and coordinating special financing like VA loans. As a service to the military community, we have compiled information on several excellent neighborhoods in the area with easy commutes to Maxwell AFB and MEMS. Click here to learn more about these neighborhoods.