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Published: Thursday, 10/3/2013

Ohio air force base suspends classes amid shutdown

Thousands of workers sent home without pay

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DAYTON, Ohio  — Aviation-related classes have been canceled at Ohio’s largest military base as a result of furloughs triggered by the federal government shutdown.

The Air Force Institute of Technology suspended classes this week at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Dayton Daily News reported. About 8,700 civilian base employees were sent home without pay when the partial federal government shutdown began Tuesday.

Among those furloughed were most of the institute’s instructors and about three dozen students. The school’s commandant says it wouldn’t have made sense to try to continue classes with most instructors out. The school has more than 600 students, most of them military.

“It would have just been a nightmare as far as trying to keep everything consistent, so that’s why we made the call to just cancel the classes,” Col. Timothy Lawrence said. “We’re all moving forward and just doing the best we can out of this situation.”

The institute has a graduate school, civil engineering school, and a school of systems and logistics. Officials said they will take a day-by-day approach on class plans.

“The lack of civilian support is not ideal for now,” said Col. Nate Smith, who is working on his doctorate in aeronautical engineering. “We’re hopeful that the situation will not last long and we’ll be back in class soon.”

The base has a workforce of 29,000. Other impacts there this week have included closing the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, cutting back C-17 cargo flights from the base, and postponing a weekend drill for 1,900 reservists.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, has called on the Obama administration to return the furloughed Wright-Patterson workers, saying they play important military support roles and that they should be covered by the “Pay Our Military Act” passed before the shutdown.



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