Groundbreaking ceremony signals new schools for JBLM

District to build new Carter Lake, Hillside Elementary Schools

By Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro on August 6, 2012

Monday's official groundbreaking ceremony held on Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM's) Hillside Youth Center also signaled the beginning of construction of two new Clover Park School District (CPSD) schools - Carter Lake and Hillside Elementary.

Under the Education of Military Children Covenant, educators, civilian and military leaders and elected officials collaborated to provide quality educational facilities and programs for children of Soldiers and Airmen at JBLM.

"This represents a significant step forward," said Congressman Norm Dicks (WA-6). "It will improve the environment for kids attending schools at JBLM and provide schools that are clean, safe and efficient. This is a very important project, and I'm very proud to be able to finally take care of this problem."

Initiated by Dicks and assessed by Under Secretary of the U.S. Army Joseph Westphal, CPSD and JBLM originally partnered to evaluate the conditions of seven schools on base. The result was a defense appropriations bill of $250 million for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 to fix educational facilities on military installations nationwide - many of which had failing infrastructures. Carter Lake and Hillside Elementary ranked among the top five needing immediate attention.

"We pledge 100 percent support for the men and women in the military," said Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9). "That support includes a number of different pieces, and access to a quality education (for military children) is part of it."

Both schools will be rebuilt at their current locations. Carter Lake will host 500 students, while Hillside will accommodate 650. They're scheduled for completion in the fall of 2013.

"One reason we're doing this for our children - our kids are our legacy," said JBLM Commander Col. Thomas Brittain. "This is resounding proof of what we are doing (to make things better). With the signing of the covenant, children will have access to the modern, state-of-the-art facilities they deserve and a first-class education."

In attendance were Westphal; Deborah LeBeau, CPSD superintendent; Carole Jacobs, president, board of directors CPSD; Lt. Gen. Robert Brown; James Collins, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army; 62nd Airlift Wing Vice Commander Col. Rick Moore; and Lakewood Mayor Doug Richardson, among others. They witnessed the pledge of allegiance by military children from CPSD and later signed the covenant to commemorate the ceremony. 

"The schools on base provide a great education," said military spouse Latoya Barnes, mother of Aliyah, 10, and Alexius, 8, who took part in the traditional shovel-and-dirt groundbreaking. "The learning is better because the teachers take care of military kids. I love the new look too - it looks like a college. The kids are going to love going there."