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STUTTGART, Germany — Gen. John Craddock said he would fund construction of temporary classrooms to accommodate a projected enrollment jump next year at Patch High School here.

The decision means school and garrison officials will no longer have to ponder the unappealing option of relocating fifth-graders from one elementary school to another to make way for a spillover from the high school.

Craddock, who commands U.S. European Command, told parents that Patch Elementary fifth-graders will stay put next school year.

"[Moving fifth-graders] is creating a problem bigger than the one it solves," said Craddock, during a EUCOM town hall meeting. "I think the solution here is to put temporary classrooms at the high school. We will proceed that way."

With that, problem solved.

For months, school and garrison officials have been wrestling with ways to deal with an expected surge in enrollment next school year at Patch High, which is already bursting at the seams.

One possible measure that received much attention was a plan to send fifth-grade students from Patch Elementary School to Robinson Elementary School, some 10 miles to the north. The concept, which officials described as a last resort, nonetheless infuriated many parents. Last week at a school meeting, parents sounded off on the idea, saying it would result in hour-long bus rides for many youngsters.

However, the realignment would also free up four classrooms at Patch Elementary, which could be used by the high school next door.

Instead, Craddock said he would dip into his discretionary funds to place temporary trailers at the high school.

For garrison officials, the trailer concept was always the more appealing option. At issue was money and the necessary approvals.

During last week’s school meeting, Frank Roehl, superintendent for the Heidelberg District, said with space available at Robinson, it could be difficult to win Department of Defense Education Authority funding for the trailer-style classrooms.

Craddock’s decision to tap EUCOM funds offers an alternative.

"Obviously when the EUCOM commander also supports the idea and is willing to fund it, that makes it much easier," said Larry Reilly, a spokesman for U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart.

While it’s not yet clear how many trailers will be needed or what the price tag will be, whatever is needed will be in place by the start of next school year, the general said.

"We’ll work it out," Craddock said.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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