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Ron Walker, left, superintendent of the Geary County (Kansas) School District, speaks with Sandra Dossett, wife of Master Sgt. Edward Dossett of the 1st Armored Division’s 4th Brigade, during a forum Friday in Hanau.
Ron Walker, left, superintendent of the Geary County (Kansas) School District, speaks with Sandra Dossett, wife of Master Sgt. Edward Dossett of the 1st Armored Division’s 4th Brigade, during a forum Friday in Hanau. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)

HANAU, Germany — Military parents concerned about the Army transformation that will place them and their families at Fort Riley, Kan., later this year had some of their educational worries addressed last week when the head of the Geary County School District in Kansas visited Germany.

Superintendent Ron Walker spent last week addressing military parents in Würzburg, Kitzingen and Hanau. The visits were to inform parents about what they could expect for their children’s education when they set down in Kansas.

After a question-and-answer session Friday in Hanau, Walker said the school district has readied itself for the influx of new students, who will start arriving this summer. Numerous other districts around Fort Riley are also making preparations, he said.

Parts of the 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Armored Division are scheduled to move to Fort Riley this summer as part of the Army’s transformational drawdown of forces in Europe.

Walker said that he’s anticipating about 400 new students next year in a district that had about 6,400 students this year. An additional 600 new students will most likely go to schools in the adjoining districts.

To prepare for the growth in the student body and potential growth in the future as Fort Riley continues to expand, the school district has started new construction projects, Walker said.

Last year, area voters approved a $33 million school bond to improve facilities and build schools throughout the district.

“The state of Kansas has made a strong commitment to this entire transition,” Walker said.

Enrollment in the Geary school district is already about 60 percent military children, Walker said. While the mobility rate is high for both students and faculty — Walker said that one-third of the district’s hires are military spouses — such a situation brings a positive educational environment.

“The diversity that’s created is not a challenge,” he said. “It’s an opportunity.”

At Fliegerhorst Theater in Hanau on Friday, a handful of parents asked Walker questions on subjects ranging from academics to sports programs and gang presence in the area.

Sandra Dossett, whose husband, Master Sgt. Edward Dossett, is part of the 1st AD’s 4th Brigade that will move to Fort Riley with the 1st ID, said Friday’s session eased concerns she has for her elementary school-age child.

“I’m a little more at ease,” she said after the meeting. “It’s very nice that we had this very open forum.”

Linda Tolen, a school liaison officer for the Hanau area, said she had been handing out a lot of information on Kansas schools.

“ ‘Is Riley ready?’ That’s basically what I’m hearing,” Tolen said. “But I think Mr. Walker has answered that question. They are ready.”

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