KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Defense Department schools officials are projecting only slightly fewer students this school year despite thousands of troops leaving Europe in the past 18 months.

An estimated 40,700 students are expected to enroll this school year, said Jim Rodman, a data extraction specialist for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe headquarters in Wiesbaden. That is 800 fewer pupils than enrolled last September and 400 fewer than the number enrolled across Europe in May, according to DODDS statistics.

The declining enrollment coincides with the declining number of troops in Europe. As of Wednesday, there were 98,553 active-duty military personnel permanently stationed in the U.S. European Command’s area of operations, which includes bases in Turkey and small posts in Africa, according to the command’s public affairs office. In March 2005, there were about 111,000 troops.

Although areas such as Schweinfurt and Hanau have seen a decline in the number of students due to command shifts to the United States, places such as Kaiserslautern expect to gain students. School officials had expected a greater drop with the move of such commands as the Army’s 1st Infantry Division from Germany to Fort Riley, Kan.

“Interestingly enough, that was our anticipation throughout the spring,” Rodman said. “And it was amazing to see at certain schools a decline in enrollment and other schools ... were almost flat-lined throughout the spring all the way up to June. So, it’s a real guessing game as to what the final figure will be.”

School officials are encouraging parents to register their children as early as possible to alleviate the burden of a last-minute rush. Nearly 36,000 students have registered for the new school year, but officials are expecting thousands of parents to register their children as the first day of school on Aug. 28 gets closer.

Each spring, school district officials meet with military commanders in the area to estimate the number of students who will attend school the next year, Rodman said. Those figures are combined to establish a projection for the entire continent.

Typically, around 5,000 students are registered the last two weeks before schools open. But Rodman cautioned that projections are merely estimates and the final numbers could be hundreds less or hundreds more. Schools do not know for certain until they tally up the numbers in September.

“We always have an influx of around 5,000 people (the last couple of weeks), so who knows what’s going to happen the next couple of weeks,” Rodman said.

Online registrationFamilies with children can pre-register online for school at Parents still must deliver to their child’s school copies of their orders, shot records and school records to complete the registration.

Three more inoculations required

Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe has added three required inoculations for students attending this school year, including a vaccine for meningococcal disease, according to a DODDS-Europe news release.

The three new inoculations are:

Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine, also known as Tdap.Hepatitis A.Meningococcal conjugate vaccine, known as MCV4.With military clinics in Europe reporting being in short supply of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, the Department of Defense Education Activity has given extensions to those students age 11 and up in areas where there is a shortage. Four Americans living in Germany have died of meningococcal-related illnesses this year.

The vaccines are age-specific and not all students are required to take the vaccines, according to the release.

An updated list of required immunizations is available on the Department of Defense Education Activity Web site at

— Scott Schonauer

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