Language released Thursday in the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Act includes $139 million for the construction, renovation, repair, and expansion of elementary and secondary public schools on military installations, including nearly $40 million for Evergreen Elementary located on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
In a 2011 analysis by the Department of Defense, 33 public school facilities on military installations across the country were classified as being in “poor condition.” As a result, the Fiscal Year 2011 Defense Appropriations Act began the process of funding the replacement of these public schools. Due to sequestration cuts, the funding only covered 28 of the 33 schools, with Evergreen Elementary as one of the five remaining unfunded projects.
“Evergreen Elementary is a school recognized in the military community for its attention to students with special needs in education, and many servicemembers request a compassionate assignment at JBLM so their child can attend Evergreen,” Congressman Denny Heck, D-Wash., said. “We need to complete what began in 2011, and fix the remaining school buildings originally identified as no longer sustainable. It is unacceptable to allow sequestration cuts to prevent the kids of our men and women in uniform from receiving an excellent education in a safe and updated facility.”
JBLM is located in the new 10th Congressional District, represented by Heck.
On April 4, 2014, Heck testified before the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, requesting the subcommittee fund the remaining schools on the list.
There are about 80,000 students who attend public schools on military installations. Ninety-four percent of these students are the children of service members.
Debbie LeBeau, superintendent of Clover Park School District, said “We are extremely excited about the prospect of Evergreen Elementary receiving funding at last, and look forward to breaking ground on a new school for these students.”
The Clover Park School District will construct the new school in coordination with the State of Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Joint Base Headquarters at JBLM, and will then own, operate, and maintain the newly constructed Evergreen Elementary.