Lakewood Patch - June 27, 2012, By Jennifer Chancellor
Ground breaks in July on Carter Lake and Hillside Elementary Schools; allocation of funds called "overdue and critical."
Members of Washington state's Congressional delegation announced Tuesday that the Defense Department is releasing $47 million to replace two elementary schools on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Funding for the replacement of Carter Lake and Hillside Elementary Schools, which are owned by the government and operated by the Clover Park School District, comes from the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA), with additional money from the Washington state school construction funds.
In a joint news release published by his office, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith called the move "an overdue and critical start" for the replacement of JBLM's aging schools.
"All students in our community deserve the highest quality education and first-rate facilities," said Smith, who sits on the House's Armed Services Committee. "This money will ensure the children at JBLM receive both."
The federal funds are expected to arrive in time for the construction projects to commence next month. Hillside, which will receive $22.5 million from the government, will house 650 full-time equivalent students. Carter Lake, which is slated for $24 million in federal funds, will be built for a maximum of 500 FTE students.
In April, Lynn Wilson, CPSD's administrator for business services and capital projects, lauded the lawmakers' support in securing the money for the JBLM schools.
“U.S. Representatives Norm Dicks and Adam Smith, along with our U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, have been instrumental supporters of these projects on behalf of military families," he said.
In 2006, CPSD began a partnership with JBLM to evaluate the conditions and capacity of the seven elementary schools on the military installation.
With the exception of Evergreen Elementary, which was built in the early 1990s, all of the schools on JBLM were constructed in the 1950s and '60s. Other than some cosmetic upgrades, the schools have never been improved or remodeled. Even the newer Evergreen needs a new roof, which would cost millions of dollars.
Due to significant military growth in the area over the past decade, nearly all of the schools are operating at or above capacity, and some schools have brought in portables to hold all of their students.
The outcome of that study kicked off the Military Child Education Initiative, which raised awareness of failing school infrastructures on military installations across the United States. A $250 million budget was included in the Fiscal Year 2011 defense appropriations bill to fix base schools.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray said in the statement that the funding will benefit not only the schools, but the entire JBLM community, too.
“This is a critical investment in the public school system for the base," she said. "These grants will help ensure that the children of our servicemembers have a top-notch school facilities.”
Another $250 million was appropriated in Fiscal Year 2012 and CPSD has been invited to apply for federal funding for three additional elementary schools on JBLM: Beachwood, Clarkmoor and Greenwood. The latter pair will be consolidated as one school with 650 FTE students.
“This is great progress,” said U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, in the statement.
To view this article at the source publication, go to http://lakewood.patch.com/articles/47-million-in-federal-funds-released-to-rebuild-pair-of-elementary-schools-on-jblm.
The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.