CAMP ZAMA, Japan — John O. Arnn Elementary School principal Jim Fisher calls his school’s new two-story building and campus a “dream come true.”

More than 10 years in the making, the larger, state-of-the-art campus opened to students Monday.

Built across the street from the former campus, the $35 million, 116,000-square-foot school building — all under one roof — replaces the 79,000-square-foot educational complex previously housed in eight smaller buildings.

It will likely accommodate elementary students from the Sagamihara housing area for at least the next 10 years.

“It’s a privilege to be here,” Fisher said prior to the school’s Aug. 25 opening. “It’s absolutely wonderful; it’s a dream come true.”

According to Fisher, the new school building has 45 classrooms with areas for computer, science, kindergarten and other programs.

He projects this year’s student- teacher ration to be 18:1.

The new school building was designed to house 675 students comfortably, he said. More than 520 students are expected in class this fall.

That’s roughly the same number of students that attended Arnn during the 2002-03 school and about 50 less than the 2001-02 enrollment.

Fisher said enrollment declined between those years because of a housing replacement project in which old quarters were demolished and new unit construction began.

About 60 of those units were razed to make room for the new school campus.

During the next year, that project is expected to bring more children into the school as the Army fills the larger, recently completed homes, Fisher said.

“We don’t have an enrollment project yet, but we’re expecting more students,” he said.

The new campus has been under design since 1991, Department of Defense Dependents Schools Chief of Staff Peter Grenier said.

Ground broke in April 2001. Construction began in 2002 and was initially scheduled for completion by the end of 2002.

But budget and construction issues delayed completion until May, Grenier said.

That gave school officials the summer to get the new school building operational by the scheduled Aug. 25 opening.

“Everything was completed [by the start of school],” Fisher said.

Grenier credited the U.S. Army and Japanese government for making sure the school would be ready for students at the beginning of the 2003-04 school year.

The Japanese government funded the school project and worked with the Army to resolve construction issues.

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