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School year starts with open house, construction update

Mari-Alice Jasper Fort Campbell Courier

Fort Campbell Courier
Fort Campbell | July 27, 2017

Summer vacation is dwindling down to its final days as Fort Campbell students stuff their backpacks with supplies, gearing up for their first day of the 2017-18 school year Wednesday.

Before the first day, parents can visit the schools on post during the open house Tuesday. The middle school and high school will be open 2-5 p.m., and the elementary schools will be open 3-6 p.m.

Linda Brake, education instructional systems supervisor for the Fort Campbell School System, said the faculty and staff are looking forward to having parents and Families in their schools.

“[During the open house] we will have class lists so parents can see who their teacher is, go into the school and find their classroom. They are welcome to bring their child’s school supplies and drop them off then if they don’t want to put them on the bus with the children the next morning.”

Barkley Elementary School

Teachers, construction workers and administration at the new Barkley Elementary School are working diligently to set up their classrooms before the open house. The new 142,049-square foot facility is built to serve 741 students. About 450 students are enrolled now.

A.C. Stafford, facilities engineer for Department of Defense Education Activity Facilities Branch, said the students will be most pleased with the interior of the building and the way the facility is designed.

“The principal who helped to design this in 2012-13 was a real nature lover,” he said. “So what you will see on the interior of the building are a lot of natural finishes – wood and stone.”

The color scheme of the school is also natural, mainly comprised of brown and beige tones.

“In the Information Center you will see the tree inside there that sits behind the circulation desk,” he said. “There is also a big learning tree in the common area that goes up the side of the stairwell. It’s almost like walking into a forest in some aspects. We repeated the theme throughout the entryways to the learning neighborhoods.”

This project was budgeted at $45,178,000 and took about 1,070 days to complete. Construction on the facility began in March 2014.

“We had some setbacks due to weather and technology issues,” Stafford said. “But overall we are happy with the product that we have. It is a high quality product. All the finishes and features of the building are acceptable to us.”

Fort Campbell High School

A few miles south of Barkley Elementary School, construction crews are still working to complete the new Fort Campbell High School facility.  Christy Huddleston, district superintendent for DoDEA Americas Southeast District, said the opening of the high school has been pushed back from January 2018 until August 2018.

“A lot of weather there and a lot of rain has slowed down our ability to complete all of the site work as well as getting some of the construction materials off of the site to finish up the interior of the building,” Stafford said. “We want to create a quality product for the students, faculty and the parents, so we will take a little delay and make sure we put out a quality product.”

This year about 437 students are enrolled at the high school.

Mahaffey Middle School

Over the summer Wassom Middle School consolidated with Mahaffey Middle School because of declining enrollment, quality of education and facility maintenance.

This year, about 480 students are enrolled at Mahaffey. Brake said enrollment numbers often spike the week before school starts.

“A lot of Families that move over the summer wait until school is almost ready to begin to enroll their children,” she said.

Brake said the consolidation of the middle schools caused very few challenges.

“Mahaffey was big enough to have both schools in it,” she said. “The teachers are really excited to be collaboratively teaching together instead of two separate middle schools. With the staff combined we are able to offer more course selection and more after-school activities for the middle school students.”

After-school activities are especially important at the middle school level, Brake said.

This year intramural sports will be offered at Mahaffey. They will also offer many clubs such as Art Club, Chess Club, Lego Strategy Club and Robotics Club. There will also be choir and band programs.

Superintendent search

Following the June retirement of Gary Gerstner, former community superintendent of DoDEA Schools for the Southeast District, the search for a new community superintendent is underway. The posting for the position on USAJOBS has closed.

Huddleston said she is forming a panel that will be looking for a highly qualified candidate for the position. Interviews for the position are anticipated to begin by the middle of August.

Brake said the panel is looking for a candidate with strong leadership qualities and a passion for working with teachers and children.

“… someone who is able to instructionally move the system with where we are going with literacy and math,” Brake said. “The teachers here are very used to having the superintendent in their classroom so we want someone who is very visible out in the schools.”

The position is anticipated to be filled during this school year.


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