RAF CROUGHTON, England — London Central students and their parents, who were near panic over the surprise announcement of the pending closure of the high school, are now realizing there is life after DODDS.

Nearly two dozen parents whose children attend the Department of Defense Dependents School gathered at RAF Croughton on Thursday evening for a three-hour question-and-answer session with 422nd Air Base Squadron commander Lt. Col. Jim Ryan. Some 120 students currently attend the school and many will have to attend English schools starting next year.

“Taking care of families is a big part of being a squadron commander and it’s something I have to do to ensure these families and the families of the future have the proper tools to educate their children,” Ryan said.

One of the chief concerns of family members was the proper transfer of credits from English schools to American schools and universities. Ryan and DODDS transition specialist Kay Hilley responded by reminding parents that even students who move between states often lose credits from one school to another.

“If you want assurances that every credit will transfer to every high school in the United States, I can’t do that for you,” he said.

However, both Ryan and Hilley stressed that military and education leaders will work with families and students on a “case-by-case basis” to ensure students enroll in English classes that largely mirror the American curriculum.

Still, parents were uneasy about transportation to British schools, the cost of uniforms, the effect of scores of Americans flooding into local schools and students meeting the “No Child Left Behind” standards.

But there were other parents who view the closure as an opportunity for their child to attend elite British private schools with the $40,000 the Department of Defense is providing to educate each student.

“The way DODDS implemented this, I’d like to give them a kick to the shorts,” said Senior Master Sgt. Mike DeShon, 42, Great Falls, Mont. “But is this an opportunity? You bet it’s a great opportunity.”

DeShon raved about the British schools his two children attend.

“My kids love it and they are getting a world-class education that rich parents in the States seek out for their kids,” DeShon said. “People need to realize this does not have to be a negative.”

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