DODDS-Europe enrollments going up, but still lower than expected
Department of Defense schools across Europe are still reporting lower-than-expected enrollments, although a recent surge in registrations has helped narrow the gap a bit, school officials said Friday.
While about 2,250 pupils across Europe have enrolled since the beginning of classes on Aug. 29, enrollment numbers are still 5,000 below what Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe officials expected. That’s 11 percent of the expected pupil population.
Some principals said DODDS estimates were too high to begin with and do not expect enrollment to rise much.
The Bavaria District continues to report the largest number of missing students, with about 2,000 students fewer than DODDS officials predicted. That’s about 20 percent fewer students than expected.
DODDS’ predictions came out before the Army officially announced that units in Würzburg would leave starting this year, said Ed Atterberry, executive officer of the Bavaria District, so they did not take into account families that have left for good.
“It looks like, ‘My gosh, their projections were way off,’” Atterberry said. “Given what has transpired since the projections were made, it is not a surprise that the enrollment has dropped. And we would expect it to continue to drop.”
Similarly, he said, there is no official announcement whether units in the Kitzingen area are leaving, although “you can look out the window and see the moving vans leaving.”
The elementary and intermediate schools in Kitzingen also continue to report lower-than-expected enrollments.
DODDS officials predicted that 725 students would enroll in Würzburg High School this year. So far, 508 students have enrolled, said principal Walter Seely, who said he had expected a student population of about 525.
David Ruderman, a spokesman for DODDS, said officials there could not explain the sudden enrollment drop.
“There’s a lot of transition going on. Deployments are over the horizon,” Ruderman said. “But all that is just speculation. The truth is we just don’t know.”
Lakenheath High School principal Henry McAdams said the DODDS prediction of 707 also seemed high. He said 643 students had enrolled so far this year.
“I was saying 650, so I was pretty close,” McAdams said of his prediction at the onset.
The Heidelberg District is missing a little more than 1,000 pupils. The district includes areas where 1st Armored Division soldiers send their children. The division is gearing up for a yearlong deployment later this year.
The Mediterranean District, which includes Italy, is missing about 900 pupils, according to DODDS numbers. School officials in Italy had no ready answers for the drop, and some have speculated that servicemembers are simply arriving late.
Some schools that reported low registration numbers early on have returned to normal.
The week before school started, Ramstein High School was missing about 200 students. Now the school is just 23 students from reaching its expected enrollment of 1,028, said principal Barbara Ferg-Carter.
Ferg-Carter said the school has an unexpected shortage of ninth-graders and more sophomores and juniors than projected. That has meant a lot of class adjustments, she said.
“We do it most every year, but this year it’s been especially challenging,” she said.
Kent Harris contributed to this report.