The Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) operates 172 schools located in 11 foreign countries, seven states, Guam, and Puerto Rico and serves more than 74,000 children of active-duty military and Department of Defense (DOD) civilian families. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the design and construction agent for the renovation or replacement of approximately 85 DODEA schools systemwide.
According to Manal S. Ezzat, Ph.D., PMP, Directorate of Military Programs at USACE Headquarters and DODEA national program manager, the program was initially authorized in FY 10 and planned to run through FY 18, but budget reductions have expanded the time table. “They’re not cutting back what needs to be done to the schools, but they’re reducing the annual budget and extending it over a longer period of time,” she said, estimating they’re about halfway through the execution of the nearly $4 billion program.
“We have narrowed down the 21st century criteria” she said, adding that it is an ever-evolving document in order to incorporate lessons learned from completed projects and keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology.
Ezzat noted the collaborative nature of the new schools’ functionality, with movable transparent walls between classrooms and seating that reconfigures easily into student groups of varying arrangements. Libraries are smaller, with less space devoted to books and more emphasis on technology and downloadable information.
Learning tools are integrated into the infrastructure. “Some schools have windmills that will generate electricity,” said Ezzat. “Students can see how the process works.
“The kids are so excited when they walk into these schools,” she said. “These are beautiful schools. It makes you want to learn, want to stay there.”
This article was first published in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Building Strong®, Serving the Nation and the Armed Forces 2016-2017 Edition magazine.