Department of Defense approves $40.3 million for construction of new Evergreen Elementary at Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Following Congressman Denny Heck's (D-Wash.) continued advocacy for the continued funding for renovations to public schools on military installations, today the Department of Defense announced that the Clover Park School District will receive a total of $40.3 million to replace Evergreen Elementary School at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The grant, provided through the DoD's Office of Economic Adjustment, will replace the existing school building with a modern facility to meet the current need. The new school building will serve 761 military connected students, including 156 special education students with severe physical disabilities, in grades kindergarten through fifth.
JBLM is located in the 10th Congressional District, represented by Heck.
"Our community can't wait for this critically important project to break ground," Heck said. "Many children of servicemembers stationed at JBLM attend Evergreen and we want to make sure this school is well-equipped to handle each student's education needs."
Approximately 80,000 students attend public schools on military installations in the U.S., and children of servicemembers are 94 percent of the total student population.
The final federal spending bill for Fiscal Year 2015 included $175 million for the construction, renovation, repair, and expansion of public schools on military installations. A multi-disciplined team from the DoD and U.S. Department of Education then reviewed the school projects to ensure the awards appropriately address the noted capacity and facility condition deficiencies.
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.
On April 4, 2014, Heck testified before the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, requesting the subcommittee fund the remaining schools on the list. Following his testimony, funding for the remaining public school renovations on military installations was first included in the House version of the FY 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Act (Page 124). It later appeared in the Senate version of the bill.
"These school construction projects would not have been possible without the advocacy and determination of Congressman Denny Heck," Debbie LeBeau, superintendent of Clover Park School District said. "Evergreen Elementary is a very special school serving students with disabilities that requires specialized instructional spaces. Updated technology, classroom spaces and improved access for physically challenged students will greatly improve the quality of education for our 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.