International school in Kaiserslautern could open by next fall
October 16, 2014
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Plans to open a private international school in Kaiserslautern by next fall advanced a step further after a sufficient number of families, including some Americans, expressed interest in sending their children there, city official said Thursday.
“We have definite intent to move forward,” said Andrea Oliver, the director of U.S. relations for the city.
Many details still need to be hashed out, but Oliver said it’s likely International School Kaiserslautern would initially comprise kindergarten through middle-school grades, with the intention of expanding at some point to a full secondary school program.
Instruction would be in English with a strong secondary focus on German.
Families interested in learning more about the school are invited to attend two “open days” at International School Neustadt on Nov. 6 and Nov. 24, from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Parents can register online for one of the open day time slots at: http://is-kaiserslautern.de/
The city circulated a survey this spring to gauge support for school.
Oliver said in May that the city needed to see at minimum potential interest from 180 to 200 students to move forward. Survey results indicated that about 330 children might enroll in the school, Oliver said. “That’s parents of children that expressed an interest,” she said.
“We had responses from truly an international crowd,” Oliver said. “We had Germans, some Americans, but also other nationalities,” including from NATO families assigned to allied air command headquarters at Ramstein Air Base.
Air Force Master Sgt. Emily Lizak, who works for the allied air command’s base support group, said Wednesday about 35 NATO employees and spouses attended a town hall meeting the command hosted in September to learn more about the school.
“There is an interest,” she said.
The draw is the English-based curriculum. NATO families that don’t qualify for free base schooling either pay to send their children to Department of Defense Dependents School or opt for a German school and hire tutors to assist with the language difference, she said.
As of May, 91 students paid tuition to attend a base school in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, according to an official with Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe. Those include children of Air Force and Army contractors, foreign service workers and U.S. companies. Annual tuition costs from $23,000 to $26,500, and the family member must have base access.
Tuition costs for the international school in Kaiserslautern are still being worked out, Oliver said. She offered a rough estimate of between 800 and 1,000 euros per month, per child, with discounts given to additional children from the same family.
“Part of it depends on the number of kids that sign up, and it also depends on the cost of the facility,” she said.
SBW Haus des Lernens would run the school. The Swiss company operates 16 schools worldwide, including one in the Rheinland-Pfalz city of Neustadt, according to its website. That school is about 45 minutes by car from downtown Kaiserslautern.
The city of Kaiserslautern initiated the project and sought a company that would run the school, Oliver said.
It’s hoped the school will foster economic development and enhance the city’s desirability as a location for international businesses. Helping the city facilitate the project is ZukunftsRegion Westpflaz, an association of business, political and other leaders from the region.
The city is looking for a location for the school. Its “dream” spot is the former German military’s recruiting center, a “beautiful,” historical villa in the center of town, Oliver said. The German government owns the property but is expected to put it up for bid in the near future, she said. “We have potential investors who are interested in buying it and renting it to the school,” she said.