GARMISCH, Germany — Last year, after 1st Armored Division soldiers were told they’d be staying in Iraq longer than expected, schools were opened in the summer to help keep their kids busy.

Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Baumholder, Giessen, Hanau and Wiesbaden stayed open for four weeks for students in kindergarten through eighth grades until the soldiers returned to Germany in late July.

DODDS officials are asking the Defense Department for up to $10 million to pay for summer school in Europe and Asia in anticipation of troops being deployed. They said they’d need to know by Jan. 31 if the funding was coming in order to start registering students and lining up teachers and other staff.

The potential need was one of the issues raised this week at the U.S. European Command Quality of Life Conference. “We need to get a resolution to funding and other issues early enough to develop a program,” said Dr. Joseph Tafoya, director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, which oversees DODDS. “That way, we can let the command and the schools and our teachers know what we need to do next summer, or if we need to do anything.”

Tafoya said the requested funding would pay for summer school in Europe and Asia. Stateside DOD schools are already funded for summer school. Tafoya also said that specific commands, such as EUCOM, U.S. Air Forces in Europe or U.S. Army Europe, could pay for their own local summer schooling. For example, last year USAREUR paid for the 1st AD schools to stay open.

“The biggest thing was the fact that we cared, we scrambled and we made it happen,” said Diana Ohman, director of DODDS-Europe. “And they thought, ‘Man, they did this for us, and thank you.’”

“Academically, any kind of summer months’ injection of information and continued knowledge is a good thing for any child.”

Tafoya said he would prefer to hold summer school at all DODDS schools so each student has equal access. Ohman said that the Jan. 31 target date is fair.

“It takes that long to do the right thing by teachers and not press them and ask them if it fits into their summer plans,” she said. “There’s a lot of stuff you have to work through.”

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