52nd FW leadership conducts school move town hall

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The 52nd Fighter Wing leadership and representatives from Department of Defense Dependents Schools held a town hall Oct. 30, 2015, at the base theater to answer your questions and address rumors about the Bitburg American Middle-High School and Elementary School move.

Here are some of the questions and answers from the town hall:

Q: Will the high school still be at Bitburg next year?

A: We are pushing to get everybody back here as fast as we can. We'll push hard to make it all happen in the Summer of 2016 and we are extremely confident we can bring the Elementary kids (K-5) back by Summer 2016, but realistically it may take until Summer 2017 to finish the construction for the larger High School campus.  We will keep you updated, we are going to be on social media and on the web pages as this project progresses and we will keep you tuned in.

Q: Could you explain the middle-high school plan a little bit more regarding the infrastructure; what will happen to gym, cafeteria, laboratories, auto hobby, and the other things that the high school offers?

A: When we went into this, that was one the biggest concerns of the teachers and principals, is that we would lose those nice specialty places that we have for the older kids. The big picture is they will share the main Spangdahlem Middle School buildings, laboratories and the modular buildings. The modular buildings took a lot of those functions, so the specialized labs, the audio visual will be built into the modular buildings. There will be some high school students who will have some of the normal classrooms as the middle school and have those specialized functions in the modulars. 

Q: Is the material used to build the modulars environmentally friendly?

A: Yes. These are going to be extremely safe; it costs a little bit more money. But yes, these are going to be both environmentally friendly and fire safe.

Q: You're going to bring all the elementary back, does that mean there is going to be the 'only up to fourth grade' rule? If so, does that mean that now fifth grade will share classrooms and buildings with high school students in the high school when you put the modulars in?

A: The elementary school will be kindergarten through fifth grade.

Q: What about the football team? Will we still have the field and facilities to play in?

A: There will be sharing of all facilities at Spangdahlem and we are going to have a memorandum of understanding between the base and DoDDS that prioritizes things like high school volleyball versus intramural volleyball. Just as an example, that will be the basis for scheduling. But yes, high school sports will be taken care of.

Q:  With the addition of the modular, do we anticipate the class size to grow a little bit?

A: It depends on the demographics and the population with military, but we don't project any significant change.

Q: With adding such a large group of people next to the base in Bitburg (refugees) are there any immediate security concerns that close to the base?

A: We have defenders that are really good at what they do, so there is no specific threats to Bitburg -- the students are safe.

Q: Will the buses from Bitburg stop here (Spangdahlem) for the high school and then go out or will they go straight to Bitburg?

A: Currently we are busing from Wittlich to not only Spangdahlem, but also a separate bus that goes straight to Bitburg and we will continue doing that.

Q: With possibility of the high school still being on Bitburg next year, will there be a set grade level at which elementary and middle school start for Spangdahlem?

A: If we are unable to complete the Spang MS/HS modular campus by Summer 2016, we will maintain 7-12th grade next year at Bitburg.

Q: Will classes end one week early for teachers to prepare for the move?

A: I don't want to comment on the school's schedule for next year. That will absolutely be a consideration.

Q: You're saying that you are going to put the middle school in with the high school temporarily, is there a plan to keep the 11 year-olds separate from the 18 year-olds?

A: Yes, absolutely.

Q: You guys are trying to have the high school over here next summer, but if you don't get it done this summer, is there any chance that you will be doing it in the middle of the school year?

A: There's a lot of planning and construction to be accomplished between now and when it's time to make that decision.  But both base and DoDDS leadership will try to prevent any significant disruptions the quality of learning during this transition. We are not going to do something that is detrimental to kids or their families.

Q: I have a question regarding the possibility we might still be in Bitburg for another year. You said the Bitburg mayor will be announcing their plans for the Bitburg Annex. Will they be able to start their plans or any of the construction while are kids are there?

A: No. There will be no change to the security, perimeter or fence until we are completely relocated out of Bitburg Annex.