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GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Schools in Grafenwöhr and Vilseck will see around $40 million in construction and improvements over the next three years under an extensive Department of Defense Dependents Schools plan.

Set amid the Army’s mammoth scheme to build up and reorganize the two bases around a slew of incoming units, the arrangement will include two new schools in Grafenwöhr, plus major renovations to the elementary and high schools in Vilseck, said David Ruderman, DODDS-Europe deputy public affairs officer.

When all construction is completed sometime in late 2007 or early 2008, there will be two elementary schools and a middle school in Grafenwöhr, plus a stand-alone high school and the expanded elementary-grade school facility in Vilseck, Ruderman said.

Currently, each base contains only one elementary school, while all middle and high school-age pupils attend the single seventh- through 12th-grade school in Vilseck.

Of all the proposed improvements, the biggest DODDS project is the $26.8 million elementary/middle school complex currently being built in Grafenwöhr.

Designed by New York architectural firm Mitchell/Giurgola Architects, the school will be able to accommodate about 1,440 pupils in an 180,000-square-foot building, with its population split between the middle and elementary pupils, Ruderman said.

The two schools essentially will function as separate entities with some independent recreation and sports facilities, but will share common spaces such as administrative offices, said Bavaria district assistant superintendent Mike Thompson.

Meanwhile, the Vilseck middle/high school will undergo about $10 million in renovations to make it exclusively into a high school able to hold about 600 students, Ruderman said. Presently, the school can handle about 550 kids, traditionally from grades seven to 12, he said.

Additionally, the nearby elementary school will likely get a $2.4 million addition, pending congressional approval of the spending plan for the expansion, Ruderman said.

The extensive DODDS projects are a corollary to what is, by far, the Army’s biggest current construction effort in Germany, a colossal $1.5 billion project to house almost double the traditional amount of troops at the two posts.

Those soldiers tentatively are scheduled to begin arriving as early as next spring, with subsequent waves following well ahead of the completion dates for some of the school construction, creating a potential shortfall of classrooms.

It’s a situation, Thompson said, DODDS officials are already planning to mitigate, if they have to: Temporary classrooms may be set up on the bases if pupils threaten to overwhelm school facilities before the new buildings can be finished.

“If the [student] numbers come in as we’ve been provided, we believe we’ll accommodate everyone,” he said.

But if greater-than-expected numbers of soldiers arrive before the start of the 2008 school year, when the new Grafenwöhr complex should be fully operational, DODDS may consider using off-base facilities for classrooms, Thompson said.


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