Officials study consolidating Spangdahlem middle schools
Stars and Stripes May 21, 2004
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — DODDS and Spangdahlem officials are looking at merging two middle schools serving the Spangdahlem Air Base community as a remedy for low enrollments.
Eifel East Middle School in Spangdahlem and Eifel West Middle School in Bitburg would combine 6th- to 8th-grade pupils starting in the 2005-2006 academic year, said Audrey Burkel, schools liaison officer.
They would attend school at the Bitburg middle school. Fifth-grade pupils would be moved back to the elementary school at Bitburg, she said.
The proposal will be discussed at a School Advisory Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Bitburg Elementary School cafeteria.
A task force made of Department of Defense Dependents Schools representatives from the Kaiserslautern district, as well as principals, 52nd Fighter Wing members and pupil transportation officers, was formed a year ago to discuss concerns over the base’s shrinking pupil population, Burkel said.
Fearing that lower enrollments at the middle schools — which now have roughly 250 pupils each — would affect staffing and budget allocations, the task force decided that merging the schools might solve the problem, Burkel said.
“If you don’t have a certain number of students enrolled, you cannot provide full staffing,” she said. “We want to provide the best education for the children.”
DODDS middle schools are supposed to have 350 pupils to merit full staffing, she said. However, Burkel said that so far neither middle school has lost money or staff due to lower pupil populations.
“We’re not hurting, but we can provide more sound education programs if we consolidate,” she said.
DODDS-Europe officials could not be reached for comment.
Burkel said the plan also would save money in school maintenance, utilities and staffing costs. However, she said the exact amount of the savings is unknown.
Up to 10 teaching positions may be lost because of the consolidation, she said.
Having all middle school pupils attending classes at Bitburg would make it easier for qualified children to take advanced placement courses at the high school there, she said. Now, pupils at the middle school in Spangdahlem have to drive to Bitburg to take such classes. Extracurricular activities at Bitburg also would be more accessible, she said.
Spangdahlem Air Base is home to the 52nd Fighter Wing, which includes three fighter squadrons and numerous support units.
A total of 3,500 active-duty airmen are stationed at the base, along with 8,000 family members and Defense Department civilians, base spokesman Capt. Tom Crosson said.