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School’s out forever at Dexheim Elementary when it closes its doors for summer 2008.

The school, which has some 90 students and 14 employees, is set to shut down because of the Army’s transformation: the inactivation of the 123rd Main Support Battalion.

“Based on analysis of the impact of the inactivation of the 123rd MSB, DODDS-Europe does not project a sufficient enrollment to continue school operations in Dexheim after the summer of 2008,” according to a Department of Defense Dependents Schools press release.

The news was not exactly a surprise after the announcement some weeks ago of the battalion’s inactivation. Still, it hit some people hard.

“Our students are sad,” said Arlene Thurston, school secretary and registrar.

“One girl who has been here since kindergarten — she’s in fourth grade now — she was crying today.”

Thurston said that parents had been calling but most were with the battalion, and so would be moving where the Army sends them, with their children in tow.

But 10 or so are not with the battalion and would likely need to be bused to another school.

“Wiesbaden is very close,” said Linda Curtis, DODDS-Europe deputy director. “We’ll bus students wherever they need to be bused.” There are two elementary schools in Wiesbaden, she said.

The trip would be under 30 minutes, she said. Dexheim students in grades seven through 12 already have been attending school in Wiesbaden.

Teachers will be declared “excess,” and the system will try to place them elsewhere in DODDS, Curtis said. “Every year we’ve placed all of our teachers,” she said.

Last year, DODDS closed eight schools in Europe, and all 150 teachers found new DODDS positions, including in the U.S. and in the Pacific, she said.

Even if not all were thrilled with their moves, “they were all happy to have jobs,” Curtis said.

No closing date has been set. Sometimes when schools are closed, they do it a week early, Thurston said.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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