DoDEA-Europe Rethinks School Renovation, Replacement Plan

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe (DoDEA-Europe), part of the Alexandria-headquartered DoDEA that serves school-age children of military employees, is re-evaluating part of a 2010 plan to renovate or replace roughly 70 percent of its worldwide schools by 2021 in response to military personnel or infrastructure changes in Europe.

The European Infrastructure Consolidation — the Pentagon’s plan to close 15 military installations across Europe as part of a reorganization of U.S. forces on the continent — cancelled several proposed school projects, reported Stars and Stripes.

Rainbow Elementary School at Barton Barracks at U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach is no longer needed, as the base will be returning to Germany. The U.K. also lost two school replacement projects — Feltwell Elementary School at Royal Air Force Feltwell and Menwith Hill Elementary/High School at RAF Menwith Hill — as a result of force structure changes. In Portugal, a school project at Lajes Field was also cancelled.

School construction at U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder in Germany is currently on hold, Russ Roberts, DODEA-Europe chief of logistics, told Stars and Stripes. The base was supposed to get a new elementary and middle or high school, but DODEA is waiting to see future troop numbers from the military before proceeding.

Despite the project cancellations, plans are still moving ahead on others. For instance, plans to replace the schools on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, are still underway. Spangdahlem Elementary School was to be remodeled and expanded, but those plans were withdrawn after project bids came back $6 million to $7 million over budget, officials told Stars and Stripes. An updated plan calls for building a new school, with construction projected to start in 2018 and completion expected in 2020. Similarly, the design for a new Spangdahlem middle or high school is complete, and bids should go out this summer.

Another project making progress is Kaiserslautern High School, being built on the former site of the base exchange at Vogelweh complex in Germany. It is on schedule to open in 2018, and will be unlike any school constructed for military family members living overseas, reported Stars and Stripes. The local office of Dorsch International designed the school in collaboration with SchenkelShultz Architecture’s Orlando office.

The $74 million school is designed in the shape of a hand, as opposed to the standard rectangular layout. The “palm” serves as the commons area, with a cafeteria and auditorium. Four instructional wings (or fingers) extend from that central core, and the gym acts as the thumb. In each wing, there will be “learning studios” in lieu of classrooms, and instructional areas will be more open with a variety of fixed walls and moveable partitions that can be adjusted for different class sizes. A separate music room is also being built with superior acoustics.

Wiesbaden High School, located in Wiesbaden, Germany, features a similar 21st century design and is on track for completion by the fall of 2017.