School overcrowding eases in South Korea
Stars and Stripes August 30, 2009
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The U.S. military’s on-base schools in South Korea head into the new school year expecting to meet all or most enrollment demands, thanks to new construction that’s created additional classroom space, officials said.
All but gone is a likelihood of a reprise of 2004, when an 11th-hour overcrowding crisis at Osan Air Base and Camp Humphreys sparked an enrollment furor. The U.S. military this year has a newly built middle school at Osan, and new classrooms have been added at Osan’s high school and Camp Humphreys’ elementary school, Department of Defense Education Activity officials said.
The high school at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul also will have more classrooms this year.
“We monitor our enrollments daily and, right now, all signals are that with the additional space that we have created … we’ll be able to accommodate all our space-required students and probably our nonspace-required students,” said Peter Grenier, deputy superintendent for DODDS in Korea.
“But we’ll know that in the coming weeks.”
Enrollment is carried out according to four eligibility categories, arranged in descending order of priority.
Children of active-duty, command-sponsored parents, known as Category 1 students, have first priority.
Category 2 includes students whose sponsors are civilian contractors working with the U.S. military. They must pay tuition and are admitted on a space-available basis.
“We historically have been able to meet the category 1 and 2 without problem,” said DODDS-Pacific spokesman Charles Hoff.
In Category 3 are children of nonappropriated fund employees or from military families without command sponsorship. They may attend school tuition-free but on a space-available basis.
Category 4 students are those with no connection to the U.S. military.
They may attend on a space-available basis and must pay tuition. They’re dependents of U.S. private citizens — including military retirees — and citizens of foreign countries.
Hoff noted that numerous other eligibility criteria apply within each category and that families can learn more from: http://pac.dodea.edu/supportservices/Fiscal/index.htm.
For the 2009 school year, DODDS had already registered 3,946 students in Korea as of Aug. 24, Grenier said. That would fill the schools to about 84 percent of their capacity, he said.
“At this time, based on current enrollment numbers, we believe that we’ll be able to meet many if not all of our known projected Category 3, Category 4 requests,” Hoff said.
DODDS officials expect about 90 students to seek enrollment in categories 3 and 4.
“So we’re talking about a relatively small percentage of students that we’ll likely be able to accommodate” in categories 3 and 4, Hoff said.
Buildings providing new classroom space this year include a two-story structure with six classrooms for elementary students at Yongsan. It seats up to 150 students.
Camp Humphreys has a new one-story building with three classrooms for up to 75 second-graders.
Osan’s all-new middle school is a three-story building that will house grades six, seven and eight with a capacity of up to 350 students.
Workers also have built a two-story, eight-classroom addition to Yongsan’s high school.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military and its school system expect to meet the growing enrollment demand forecast for coming years as an increasing number of command-sponsored families come to South Korea for two- and three-year tours, officials said Wednesday.
“Nothing’s going to be spared when it comes to building the schools and staffing them,” said U.S. Forces Korea spokeswoman Rita McIntosh.
For more on DODDS schools eligibility criteria, visit http://pac.dodea.edu/supportservices/Fiscal/index.htm.