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Post to get new middle school

By Rose Schneider

A $35.2 million federal grant to USD 475 in Junction City will underwrite construction of a new middle school at Fort Riley.

Members of the state’s congressional delegation announced the award Tuesday, the funds designed to fix a growing issue of over-crowding and lack of modern technology at Fort Riley Middle School.

“At approximately 40 percent over capacity, it is clear the school at Fort Riley was in desperate need of an upgrade,” said Second District Rep. Lynn Jenkins in announcing the grant.

Funding will be provided by the Department of Defense.

Over-crowding has been growing since 2005, when a Base Realignment and Closure increased the number of divisional and support units on post. Since then, the troop strength at Fort Riley has approximately doubled to an estimated 18,500. There are an estimated 24,500 dependents of those soldiers.

The state’s two senators stressed in a press release that the men and women who serve our country should not have to worry about the quality of their children’s schools.

“The Junction City community has worked hard to accommodate the growth in Ft. Riley’s population,” said Sen. Jerry Moran. “USD 475 can be proud that it continues to make certain that the needs of those who serve our country are met, and their kids have access to quality schools and other educational resources.”

USD 475 will match a portion of this funding, roughly $6.7 million, for a total of $41.96 million to demolish the existing middle school and build the new one. The new school will house approximately 700 6th through 8th grade students. In 2005, there were an estimated 3,500 military students in schools on post and in the Fort Riley area. That number is now estimated to be in excess of 8,000.

Members of Congress applauded the efforts of Geary County Supt. Ron Walker, Deputy Garrison Commander Linda Hoeffner, Gov. Sam Brownback and John Armbrust, executive director of the Governor’s Military Council, to ensure the Department of Defense made Ft. Riley schools a priority.

“I am pleased to see the Department of Defense recognize our brave service men, women and their families deserve quality education facilities,” said Jenkins. “They sacrifice every day for this country, and we want them to be assured they will be taken care of at home.”

The delegation pledged to continue working to secure funds for an additional elementary school and to address remaining educational needs at Fort Riley.

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