Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue visited Freedom Hall May 7 to sign two bills to ease military children's transitions between schools as they move because of their parents' service.

Senate Bill 114 expedites the processing of records from a student's old school to the new one, allows for a waiver for some course prerequisites that could delay on-time graduation and allows school districts to excuse absences when parents deploy or redeploy. House Bill 484 deems children of active-duty military personnel stationed in Georgia as residents, making them eligible for the HOPE Scholarship. Both bills take effect July 1.

"There's no better place to sign this bill than in a community that values its military families such as the Columbus and Fort Benning area," Perdue said. "This is our way of saying 'Thank you' for what you do."

Community representatives including Columbus mayor Jim Wetherington, COL Thomas MacDonald, garrison commander, and MG Michael Barbero, commanding general of Fort Benning, joined Perdue at the signing ceremony.

"Between deployments, new schools, new homes and new friends, our military children already have enough on their plates without having to worry about course credit transfers and different prerequisites each time they change schools," Barbero said. "So anything you can do to help lessen the burden of our Soldiers and their families is always appreciated."

Six thousand school-age children expected to arrive at Fort Benning by 2011 because of Base Relocation and Closure.

"With the influx of a lot of military families, there was an urgency to make sure we put into law some of the things (educators) had been doing on a voluntary basis," Perdue said.

Thirty-five fifth-graders from Dexter Elementary School, as well as family members and Soldiers representing each unit on Fort Benning, watched Perdue sign the bills from bleachers directly behind his table.

Several fifth-graders, including Stanmore Hines and Victoria Williams, shook hands with the governor and stood next to him as he signed the bills. Hines and Williams called the experience "cool."

For SSG Albert Killian, 926th Medical Detachment, the new laws couldn't come soon enough.

"This is the greatest thing ever," he said. "When I was 14 and moved to Georgia from Florida, I lost at least seven credits because they weren't part of the Georgia system. I had to start fresh. If this bill had been around then, I probably would have had a 4.0 grade point average instead of 2.5."

Killian said he is confident his children, who are 7 and 9 years old, will benefit from the new laws.

"They've switched schools twice already," he said. "Neither one of them are Georgia residents, but we plan to make Georgia our home, so it's great they implemented this."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16