Many of the schools throughout the Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe are failing, having been in use for 30-50 years. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District has partnered with DoDEA to provide high-quality engineering, construction, and general services to build 21st-century learning environments for military-connected children.
"Three things need to happen for education to take place: one the students have to show up ready to learn, teachers have to show up ready to teach and the building has to be a (state-of-the-art facility),” said Brig. Gen. William Graham, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division.
Europe District manages the design and construction of more than 30 schools and facilities in current and future years valued at more than $1 billion throughout Germany and Belgium. The majority of these schools are located in Rheinland-Pfalz, which includes 11 schools and facilities valued at over $600 million. The district also manages repair and renovation work and preventive maintenance contracts for school and playgrounds in Europe and the Middle East.
The plan to renovate, and in most cases to replace the schools, started in fiscal 2010 when DoDEA planned to recapitalize about 50 percent of its structures and sought approximately $1.6 billion in initial military construction funds from Congress.
The 10-year DoDEA MILCON Program includes seven completed schools valued at $273 million, eight schools under construction valued at $522 million and 11 schools and facilities currently in design valued at $507 million, which totals $1.3 billion.
Recently, Europe District and DoDEA along with the U.S. Air Force, the German Federal Office for Federal Construction (ABB), and the German regional construction office (LBB) broke ground on a future school.
"At (Ramstein High School) we're embarking on our own adventure. We are breaking ground on a new high school building that will not just be any old high school,” said student council president Amanda Daly, March 28. “The students of Ramstein will be in a state-of-the-art facility. Every advantage provided by our new school will be utilized by our wonderful faculty and students. The new building will be more than a backdrop for our learning; it will be an integral part of it."
"Today, we celebrate together the groundbreaking ceremony for Ramstein High School, which is the largest project managed by our office in our school program," said Norbert Hoebel, head of LBB-Kaiserslautern office. "Ramstein High School is such a huge and complex project that it has to be implemented in various construction phases."
The $98.8 million, three-story building with the capacity for 1,100 students will include eight learning neighborhoods, science laboratories, career and technical education (CTE) laboratories, JROTC classroom, gymnasium and other athletic support spaces, performance area with stage, and shared common spaces.
As part of the 21st-century educational facility design, a traditional school is transformed into a global classroom concept. The school building becomes a teaching tool with systems and building components exposed to provide real-world relevance and examples to reinforce the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum.
The 21st-century school design provides student-centered facilities and the flexibility and adaptability will accommodate multiple learning modalities, which allows future changes as programs evolve and grow.
"It's truly magnificent when the building can be an active member of the education experience,” said Graham. "I want to thank you all for the collaborative partnership that's going to deliver this magnificent facility."
The RHS project will include site improvements to include renovation of the existing stadium and football field, bus loading and unloading areas, parking, signage, and walkways.
"The new school will be used as a tool. It will be a resource to enhance the learning that takes place within its walls," said Sharon O'Donnell, Ramstein High School principal. "Collectively, the individuals in this room have dreamed, planned, designed, collaborated, and problem solved. Through this process we have a strong sense of teamwork and a purpose, which is to serve our students."
The schools will not only serve the students, but will also have sustainable and energy-saving concepts intended to save taxpayer dollars and to help preserve environmental resources for future generations. The features include low-flow plumbing reducing water consumption and other energy-conservation measures.
Ramstein High School is expected to be complete and in full use by the fall of 2021.
"The benefits to our students will be unlimited,” said O’Donnell. “On behalf of the generations who will walk the halls of the brand new Ramstein High School, I thank you for the importance you have placed on the leaders of tomorrow."
The military construction (MILCON) projects, carried out by Europe District, enhance the educational environment for over 14,000 students across Europe. These students represent the future of the nation, which makes the school projects quality investments that will have a lasting impact for decades to come.
Department of Defense Education Activity provides the overall conceptual planning, programming, budgeting and standards for all educational facilities. The DoDEA Facilities team provides project scope, direction and funding to USACE to execute the design and construction of the schools and facilities in Europe.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District leads the project delivery team comprised of DoDEA, USACE and German government representatives. The Army Garrison Directorate of Public Works and Air Force Base civil engineers also participate in project delivery efforts. The USACE Project Management Business Process (PMBP) is followed to manage all phases of project execution from initial planning, design, construction, turn-over and close-out. The USACE Norfolk District serves as the DoDEA Design Center providing 21st-century expertise and support during the design process.