Influx of 352nd SOG troops leads to shuffling of students at UK schools
Stars and Stripes
RAF MILDENHALL, England — An increase of servicemembers and dependents to RAF Mildenhall has resulted in a change of school zones, with some students headed to RAF Feltwell when the new school year begins.
Children in first through fifth grades living on RAF Mildenhall and those in kindergarten and first grade who live in the Holywell Row and Beck Row communities will attend Feltwell Elementary School due to population increase at RAFs Lakenheath, Mildenhall and Feltwell, according to a letter from Frank Roehl, superintendent of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools Isle District. Roehl said in a phone interview a letter was to be mailed Tuesday to affected families.
Previously, students in those zones attended Lakenheath Elementary and Liberty Intermediate, Roehl said. The change may affect about 63 students, he said. Based on tentative busing plans, Roehl said the change means students will have an approximately 10-15 minute longer bus ride to Feltwell versus an approximately 35-minute ride to schools at Lakenheath.
“The end result is that both schools will be right at their capacity for kindergarten and first grade, space-wise,” Roehl said. “We could always have more teachers, but we don’t have the physical space.”
The letter states that officials will attempt “to keep siblings at one school location this school year,” and parents may also request that children in grades second through fifth remain at their former school.
The 352nd Special Operations Group at Mildenhall announced an expansion earlier this year of new equipment and about 900 servicemembers and dependents. The unit currently has about 1,000 servicemembers and expects to reach about 1,200, according to a SOG representative.
Roehl said the Air Force told school officials that new people will be coming in throughout the year.
“The bottom line is that this adjustment as far as we’re concerned will be permanent, given the information we have now and any additional increases will require a different solution,” Roehl said.
Those solutions could include the school using a nearby building or using pre-fabricated classrooms near the two schools, Roehl said.
A 2012 military construction document details plans for an approximately $31-million addition to Feltwell Elementary. Construction is estimated to start in June 2015 and end approximately two years later, Roehl said in an e-mail.
When the school is constructed, “that will solve some of the issues based on what we know about the stationing here at this current time,” Roehl said.