DODDS-Europe enrollment lower than projected
Stars and Stripes August 31, 2006
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Fewer students than expected have enrolled in Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe this year. But school officials are expecting more to show up for classes next month as new military families continue to arrive at bases.
A little more than 38,200 students have registered for classes, which started on Monday for the vast majority of schools, according to DODDS-Europe figures. That is about 2,500 fewer children than projected.
Dennis Bohannon, spokesman for Defense Department schools in Europe, said it is too early to get an accurate count of students for this school year because the numbers typically rise until the end of September.
“The reason for this is we still have a lot of families that are still coming in, so traditionally every year during the month of September they continue to grow,” he said. “Just in the last day or two the number has increased by 1,000.”
School officials were expecting slightly lower numbers than last year because of U.S. troop reductions in Europe. Ten Defense Department schools closed over the summer because of command shifts.
Three of the region’s four school districts have reported fewer students compared to last June, the last month of last school year, Bohannon said. The Mediterranean School District reported 6,376 children, a slight gain over last year’s 6,343.
The Kaiserslautern School District saw the largest drop with 759 fewer students than last school year. Part of the drop, however, could be attributed to redistricting. Allied Forces Northern Europe high school and elementary schools switched from Kaiserslautern to the Isles District. The schools had a combined enrollment of fewer than 600 children last year.
The Heidelberg District had about 8,360 students registered for this school year. Last June, 8,920 attended schools in the district.
Linda Curtis, the outgoing superintendent of the Isles District, said enrollment in her district — which includes schools in the United Kingdom and Belgium — is pretty close to projections. But she expects more parents to enroll their children in the next couple of weeks.
“Some parents are not used to starting school until after Labor Day and so they don’t even realize we have already started,” said Curtis, who will become DODDS-Europe deputy director this week.