FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Fort Bragg continues its work to provide the highest quality education for the children and youth of its servicemembers, and in an effort to do so, conducts a bi-annual education forum.

The most recent forum took place April 6, at the Fort Bragg Club and had representation from various agencies and organizations, as well as Fort Bragg and local school systems.

The forum provides an opportunity for Fort Bragg to learn and to teach - an indication of a relationship of reciprocity with its constituents.

"I think we continue to have a request for this (forum), especially with all the changes we're having," said Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg Garrison commander.

With the acquisition of Pope Field, Fort Bragg became an installation of 56,000 strong, Sicinski said.

In an era of continued budget cuts, Fort Bragg, like other installations, is looking for ways to save money.

Randy Katz, general manager, Brady Trane, a leading supplier of heating and air conditioning applications, designs and controls for commercial and industrial buildings, listed various ways that Fort Bragg schools could use to save money, including becoming a member of the Cooperative Purchasing Network.

TCPN is a national governmental purchasing cooperative tasked with assisting public agencies to optimize efficiency when procuring goods and services. TCPN offers contracts in energy, transportation, technology, facilities, construction, office and school supplies.

The procurement of state-of-the art building systems can lower a facility's carbon footprint, Katz said. Tasks such as redirecting energy spent on improving classrooms, reducing the exposure to rising utility costs and replacing worn-out infrastructure with new infrastructure can save money. TCPN also holds contracts for materials such as paper and pencils, tables and chairs and lockers - all needed school supplies.

"We're all about student achievement and we're all about economy and efficiency," said Stuart Verdon, a TCPN spokesperson.

In other business, Daryl Page, education program director, Base Closure and Realignment Regional Task Force, provided a BRAC update.

BRAC RTF recently changed its name to the Fort Bragg Regional Alliance and has been working to recruit industry, Page said.

Its mission, according to its website, is to coordinate the planning and identify community impacts as the U.S. Forces Command and the U.S. Army Reserve Command move to Fort Bragg by this year. The task force works with 11 counties and 73 municipalities surrounding Fort Bragg and Pope Field.

FDRA has made educational efforts to implement science, technology, engineering and math technology into teaching; to enhance teacher development programs; and to create a career and talent acquisition platform in its website, Page said.

Technology enhancements have been made at various schools, said Carol McLean, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Coalition technical writer. For instance, some of the equipment that is now used includes white boards and video conferencing.
The advancements allow educators to reach a new sector of students.

"It's fulfilling a niche for a lot of students that were feeling left out in the school systems," McLean said.

John Falkenberry, president, United Service Organizations of North Carolina, said during a break from discussions, that some of his talking points would include three strategic initiatives: bringing reading and study skills to parents and children of elementary and middle school age; bringing forth bereavement camps for military children; and enduring care for warriors, specifically those attending public and community colleges on their GI bill.

School liaison officers from neighboring school districts also attended.
The April 6 education forum, took on its own relevance as it coincided with the Month of the Military Child. The month has been observed by the Department of Defense for 25 years in recognition of the character and courage of military children and youth.