KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Due to design delays, construction of the new Kaiserslautern High School won’t start until early next year, meaning the new campus may not welcome its first students until the autumn of 2014, according to school and community officials.

Meanwhile, across the street, preliminary work has begun on a tract of land that will include a multipurpose room for Kaiserslautern elementary and middle schools, an outdoor high school sports field and a bus port for arriving and departing students. Trees are being felled and construction equipment is arriving.

“Starting this week, we expect to see a lot of construction activity out there,” said Jose Tovar, chief of the facilities branch for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe.

The multipurpose room and sports venue aren’t scheduled to be ready for use until January 2013, Tovar said. The multipurpose facility will serve as the cornerstone of a long-range plan to build a new middle school and two elementary schools for the Kaiserslautern community by the end of the decade.

Community and school officials had hoped to be a little further along with the $74 million high school project. It is destined for the old Vogelweh exchange site, kitty-corner from the chapel and movie theater.

The design phase of the project is roughly a third of the way complete, Tovar said. The building plans must meet both U.S. and German standards and take into account safety, functionality and aesthetics, he said.

“We have had some delays in completing the design,” Tovar said. He attributed the delays to “some bureaucracy, some due to the nature of the design.”

The projects are being paid for by the Military Construction Fund, or MILCON. The multipurpose room, sports field and bus port are budgeted to cost about $19.4 million, according to DODDS officials.

Despite concerns over federal spending, both projects have won congressional approval, said Frank O’Gara, spokesman for the Department of Defense Education Activity. As things now stand, O’Gara said, neither project is in danger of losing its funding.

“Plans are to press ahead,” O’Gara said.

For the new high school, that means clearing the land once occupied by the Vogelweh shopping area. In recent weeks, crews have gutted the buildings, some of which date to the 1950s, of valuable scrap material, such as metal.

The area has also been surveyed for buried, foreign objects. The search found 34 spots of concern. Buried objects could range from a soda can to an inert World War II bomb.

“It’s the history of this area,” said Mark Schlueter of the 86th Civil Engineer Squadron. The presence of hazardous objects underfoot “is always a possibility. You want to be as safe as possible.”

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