New schools set to open in South Korea over next two years
SEOUL — U.S. Forces Korea and the Department of Defense Dependents Schools−Korea will open two new schools in areas I and IV during the next two years, allowing more command-sponsored families to move to the peninsula, school and military officials said Thursday.
The first school will open at Camp Casey in August 2010 with space for about 300 kindergarten through eighth-grade students, expanding to an enrollment of 600 by August 2011. The second, a high school, will open at U.S. Army Garrison-Daegu in August 2011 and have a capacity of 500 students.
"This is bridging a gap, if you will," said Col. Cliff Crofford, deputy region commander for transformation, Installation Management Command−Korea.
There are currently no DODDS schools in Area I. Daegu has one school that serves grades K-12.
Crofford said the number of troops who can bring their families to South Korea on command-sponsored tours is limited by the space available at schools.
He said the new school at Casey, which is expected to close as troops eventually relocate to Pyeongtaek, will stay open until it’s no longer needed. Dates for the relocation have not been fixed.
Daegu will remain open under the relocation plan, and the new school will remain open until new schools are built.
USFK announced in late 2008 that it would slowly begin increasing the number of command-sponsored slots to the point where half of all troops stationed here will eventually be allowed to bring their families.
Enrollment in South Korea is at or near capacity in all schools, said superintendent Irby Miller. On Thursday, four days after the start of the 2009-10 school year, 4,176 students were enrolled, just short of last year’s average enrollment of 4,200, school officials said. Enrollment peaked at 4,267 last year and typically fluctuates throughout the year as families move.
Miller said the new Casey school might not be full when it opens, but it is expected to grow to capacity.
Officials said they decided Wednesday to open two schools after gathering information about when they could open the schools, including whether they could get adequate facilities and staffing.
Both schools will be in renovated buildings. At Casey, the school will open in what are now barracks, in Building 2400, with a second wing opening in Building 2409 in 2011.
At Daegu, the school will be housed in partially unoccupied Building S330, which houses a dining facility.
Crofford said the Area I school will cost $12.2 million by 2011 and the Area IV school will cost $9.9 million.
The number of teachers at each school will be based on enrollment, assistant superintendent Peter Grenier said. He said enrollment and teacher numbers in Area II, which includes U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan, are unlikely to be affected by the school openings.
"If anything, they will probably remain more stable," he said.
Eighty-two Area I students are attending international schools at DODDS-Korea’s expense because there are no DOD schools, school officials said. Enrollment at those schools is about $15,000 to $20,000 per year, they said.
Eleven students are now bused from Area I to Yongsan, leaving at 6 each morning, the officials said.