U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today said that the Department of Defense has given a $37,134,368 grant to Lawton Public Schools, Lawton, Okla. to replace two old elementary schools on Fort Sill with a single new school.
In May 2011, Under Secretary of the Army Joseph Westphal toured Ft. Sill and the schools with Inhofe. During that visit, Westphal praised Inhofe's leadership and said, "I am impressed, amazed and excited, and I am truly excited to be here with Senator Inhofe to share some of this with him. He's done a lot to build and support this institution. As I was telling the senator, one of the things that the both of us just saw, and we're going to work together on, I promised the senator I would work with him to help rebuild our schools here on the installation, to address the needs of our children and our soldiers and families."
"I am pleased that the Pentagon will be providing these important funds to address the condition of the elementary school situation on Ft. Sill," said Inhofe. "Over 86,000 children attend Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools across the United States, Europe, and the Pacific region. Unfortunately, many of these schools are in urgent need of repair. That is why I have worked hard with the Defense Department to put an improvement plan in place and providing much needed funding. This is particularly important to Geronimo Road and Sheridan Road Elementary at Ft. Sill. These funds will be put to good use in improving the learning environment for the children at Ft. Sill."
Lawton Public Schools will manage a $45,215,368 project, consisting of $37,134,368 grant funds and a non-Federal share of $8,081,000 from the school district, to demolish the existing Sheridan Road and Geronimo Road Elementary Schools and replace them with a single new 1400-student Freedom Elementary School on Fort Sill. This award will remedy capacity and facility condition deficiencies that placed Sheridan Road and Geronimo Road Elementary Schools as the third and twelfth schools on the July 2011 Deputy Secretary of Defense "Public Schools on Military Installations Priority List" (priority list).
Lawton Public Schools currently leases land from the Army for its Fort Sill schools, and will own, operate, and maintain the newly constructed school. This well-established relationship will help to ensure the success of the project. Groundbreaking for the new school may commence once all environmental requirements have been met.
The school funding is from the $500 million program authorized by Section 8109 of Public Law 112-10, DoD and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, and Section 8118 of Public Law 112-74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012, to construct, renovate, repair or expand public schools located on military installations.
The Office of Economic Adjustment, in making the school funds available, must give priority consideration to those military installations with schools having the most serious capacity or facility condition deficiencies, as determined by the priority list.
A multi-disciplined Federal Evaluation Team, with membership from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Military Services, U.S. Department of Education, and Office of Economic Adjustment reviewed the school project to ensure the award appropriately addresses the noted capacity and facility condition deficiencies.