Renovation improves LEMS classrooms

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landsthul Regional Medical Center

“Sometimes the smell just gets you,” said Dr. George Carpenter, principal of Landstuhl Elementary and Middle School, regarding the condition of the school’s temporary classrooms.

The smell can be attributed to mold, which is the reason the school is replacing the 10 classrooms adjacent to the main administration building.

“It’s an environmental issue,” said Dr. Carpenter. “The buildings are old, and at times the teachers complained of headaches and respiratory problems.”

Coordinated by the Army Corps of Engineers, at a price of $500,000, the project began Dec. 10 and should be completed by Saturday, said Toufy Haddad, the school’s assistant principal.

This project comes two years after a $150,000 renovation attempt failed to alleviate the mold problem. A new roof and new flooring did little to stop the mold, which already had impregnated the building, said Dr. Carpenter.

“We made an attempt to bandage a problem, and it didn’t work at all,” said Haddad. “We are doing it right this time.”

Funds for the project were provided by the Kaiserslautern District Superintendent’s Office and the Department of Defense Dependent Schools European Director’s office in Wiesbaden, said Dr. Carpenter.

The old units, which were brought in some 19 years ago from England, will serve predominately as storage facilities, Dr. Carpenter said.

The school’s improvement is two fold. In addition to improving health conditions, the additional units will provide much-needed space for a growing staff and a larger-than-expected student population.

“We were projected to have 735 students this year,” said Mr. Haddad. “As of December, however, we have 868 students. And our staff has increased from 58 to 82.”

“We float teachers because there is not enough room to give them a permanent spot,” said Dr. Carpenter.

The staff increase results from the school’s desire to lower the student to teacher ratio. In the past, the school has had one teacher for every 22 students. It currently has one teacher for every 19 students, but would like to see that number come down to 18, said Mr. Haddad.

“The purpose is to get higher student achievement,” he said. “Logically, if classes have fewer students, they can get more direct, focused and personalized instruction. Everything gets more personalized.”

These temporary facilities will help the school continue to operate at a high level until all of the temporary classrooms are replaced with a permanent facility, said Dr. Carpenter. A military construction project is scheduled for 2007, he said.

“I’m very happy to get upgraded facilities,” said Dr. Carpenter. “I don’t have the luxury of waiting until the permanent facility is in place. The education process must continue.”

But soon with a new and improved smell.