Family Matters Blog: Military Children to Get Improved Schools
By Heather Forsgren Weaver
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2010 Summertime, with students and teachers gone, is often the time that schools go through major makeovers. The local public high school in my neighborhood in Virginia and the middle school near my vacation home at the New Jersey shore have been completely transformed.
For schools run by the Department of Defense Education Activity, though, makeovers and modernization efforts will begin this October. The work is needed because the buildings are getting older, and many no longer meet Defense Department standards, Russ Roberts, the activity’s chief logistician, told U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden.
Carden wrote about the activity’s plans to spend $3.7 billion over the next five years to renovate schools worldwide in an article for American Forces Press Service, “Modernization Ahead for Defense Department Schools.”
Of the activity’s 191 schools, 134 do not meet the department’s standards. But because the standards to which the schools are held were established in 2005, it has been difficult for the officials to barter for needed funds, Roberts added. The program will start with those 134 schools.
“We’re ecstatic to have the resources we need to improve the conditions of our school facilities,” Russ Roberts, chief logistician for the activity, said. “Most of our schools were built in the 1970s or before, and cannot hold the technologies. It’s important for us that we can continue to deliver the quality education our military children deserve.”
Kevin Kelly, the activity’s associate director for finance and business operations, said one reason the renovations will help is that many schools only have one electrical outlet in each room. That means computers can’t be put in the classrooms “because we’re overloading our electrical systems,” Kelly added.
Sometimes it will be necessary to start from scratch, Kelly said, which will allow the activity to build “green” buildings.
“It’s all about the children,” Roberts said. “Their parents sacrifice so much for our nation and we owe their children a quality education.”
Military parents should know, too, that this isn’t a one-time effort. Roberts said the activity will continue to manage a school replacement and upgrade program once this wave of renovation and construction is complete.
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