Junior-senior high school on Eielson Air Force Base will be closed for good

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has decided to close Ben Eielson Junior-Senior High School on Eielson Air Force Base at the end of the school year due to budget shortfalls.

The district decided March 19 to close the school when classes end in May.

“I recognize the closing of Ben Eielson Jr/Sr High is incredibly hard news for impacted students, families, and staff,” Luke Meinert, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District superintendent, said in a news release. “This wasn’t an easy choice for the school board and I know the deep sense of loss and uncertainty it may cause families and staff.”

Ben Eielson students will transfer to North Pole Middle School and High School.

Eielson Air Force Base commander Col. Paul Townsend expressed disappointment over the school board’s decision in a statement Thursday.

“I share your disappointment with the decision to close our school,” Townsend said in a news release. “We did our best as a community to influence the final decision but the inability of the district to find a solution to the budget shortfalls ultimately drove the closure decision.”

Ben Eielson is the second base school to be closed recently. The school district in 2022 shuttered Anderson Elementary School and moved its kindergarten and first grade to another base school, Crawford Elementary. The schools on Eielson Air Force Base are administered by the local school district, not the Department of Defense Education Activity.


The high school has 365 students and employs 44 faculty and staff, Ben Eielson’s school liaison program manager, Earnest Kincade, told Stars and Stripes by email March 8.

Closing the school would save the school district $2 million a year and $13.9 million in needed facility repairs, according to an Alaska Public Media report last month.