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A threat of further military base closures continually hangs over the Monterey Peninsula. Promoting and strengthening the capabilities of the remaining bases in anticipation of another round of base closures includes maintaining the desirability of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District for military families. Reportedly the school district had developed a bad reputation among military families – a situation that has changed in recent years.
In 2015, the Monterey City Council voted to have a consulting firm prepare a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis for the future existence of military installations that remain in the City of Monterey. It was announced at the time that more than 10,000 people are on the federal payroll in the Monterey Peninsula region, including at Fort Ord, and the military generates $1.5 billion for the region.
In the next round of base closures, the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District needs to be a Strength, not a Weakness, for the military facilities on the Monterey Peninsula.
Background on Monterey Peninsula Base Closures
In 1991, a Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission selected the US Army’s massive Fort Ord for closure, and it closed in 1994. This closure dramatically changed the economy and demographics of the region. In addition to the loss of significant federal funding for the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, it triggered an enrollment decline for the school district that continues 30 years later (and regrettably has accelerated in recent years, for other reasons).
But some military facilities still remain open on the Monterey Peninsula:
1. The Presidio of Monterey, located on the Monterey Peninsula and on the former Fort Ord, and home to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC), the Defense Manpower Data Center Monterey Bay (DMDC-MB), the Defense Personnel and Security Research Center (PERSEREC), the Army Analytics Group (AAG), and the Ord Military Community (OMC).
2. The Naval Support Activity Monterey (NSAM), located on the Monterey Peninsula, and home to the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), Naval Research Laboratory Marine Meteorology Division (NRL-MRY), Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC), and Defense Resource Management Institute (DRMI). Naval Support Activity Monterey also hosts the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office for the San Francisco/Monterey Bay Area.
Some community leaders remain convinced that these remaining bases are in jeopardy because of the high cost of living, the uncertainty about future water supply, and other challenges facing the Monterey Peninsula. They’ve implemented a strategy to defend the military capability of existing local bases in preparation for another round of base closures. They’ll need to rebut inevitable arguments from competing localities that other places in the country are more appropriate places for military bases than the Monterey Peninsula in coastal Northern California.
Let’s have the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District be a Strength, not a Weakness, in any Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis.