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BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Neubruecke Elementary is not expected to shut down at the end of the school year, even though it draws heavily from a soon-to- close Army casern, according to a DODDS-Europe official.

The prekindergarten-through- sixth-grade school, which serves the Baumholder community and children from Strassburg Kaserne in nearby Idar-Oberstein, has an enrollment of about 115 students.

When it was announced in September that 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment in Idar-Oberstein would relocate to Fort Lewis, Wash., Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe conducted a review to determine the impact on the school.

“Strassburg, they make up a big chunk of the (school) population,” said John Crongeyer, chief of transformation for DODDS-Europe.

But it was determined that the planned 2008 departure of the unit, which includes 495 soldiers and about 740 family members, would not affect enrollment enough to force the school’s closure, Crongeyer said.

“We looked at what the numbers would be,” Crongeyer said. “If we were going to have to close it, we would have done that.”

Nonetheless, with the eventual departure of the 1-94, the long-term status of the school is something people have been talking about.

“Of course there are lots of rumors,” said Neubruecke principal Georgia Williams-Fitzpatrick, acknowledging that there is an air of uncertainty surrounding the school’s future.

Fitzpatrick, referring questions to DODDS-Europe, said she has not been told that the school will be closing. At the same time, Fitzpatrick admitted she hasn’t been told it will remain open either.

“I’m not the one in the know,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’re waiting to hear.”

In addition to Neubruecke, two other elementary schools serve the Baumholder community — Smith Elementary, with an enrollment of 372, and Wetzel, with 443 students.

While Neubruecke is significantly smaller than those schools, it is not the smallest in the DODDS system, Crongeyer said.

The decision to keep the school open ultimately belongs to DODDS-Europe, though Army officials are consulted as part of the process, Congeyer said.

So far, “there’s no plan to close the school,” Crongeyer 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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