Delayed Camp Humphreys school opening Jan. 8
SEOUL — The new Humphreys Middle/High School will open Jan. 8, a semester after unspecified construction problems led to a last-minute delay.
A letter from DODEA Korea District superintendent Dr. Irby Miller says faculty and support staff will furnish the school with equipment, material and supplies this month and return for final preparations Jan. 6. The school will open for students two days later.
“Providing additional time for the faculty and support staff to fully prepare their classrooms and offices is part of our overall effort to minimize any disruptions to the learning process,” said the Nov. 27 letter to students, parents and staff.
“Your new state-of-the-art learning facility and well-appointed campus together represent a significant milestone as Camp Humphreys transforms to become one of two enduring military hubs in the Republic of Korea.”
Conspicuously absent from the letter was any mention of the construction problems that led DODEA to delay the opening about a week before the Aug. 6 start of the school year. Teachers and volunteers had just five days to move into the base’s old elementary school, which has served as the interim middle/high school for the fall semester.
DODEA-Pacific spokesman Charly Hoff said DODEA does not plan to disclose the specific construction problems to parents, faculty and students.
“I don’t think that anyone cares, to be honest,” he said, adding: “We’re just focusing on opening the school.”
A source with knowledge of the project told Stars and Stripes that some of the construction deficiencies were caused by translation problems between the U.S. military and contractor Samsung C&T Corp. and ranged from drains that allowed water to run on the kitchen floor to the installation of fire detectors in refrigerators.
The U.S. also failed to detect some mistakes during a pre-construction review of the contractor’s design plans, the source said.
Both the U.S. and South Korea have refused to provide information about the construction problems. It was unclear Monday which U.S. military agency was responsible for releasing that information.
A spokesman for MURO, the Ministry of National Defense-USFK Relocation Office, said the agency still does not know what construction deficiencies caused the delay because U.S. Forces Korea has not told the agency.
A new elementary school at Humphreys opened in August as scheduled, though Samsung turned it over to U.S. control two months behind schedule, just 2 1/2 weeks before the academic year began.
U.S. forces are supposed to be shifted from bases in and north of Seoul to hubs south of the capital by 2016. The relocation was originally scheduled to take place in 2008 but was delayed until 2012, then again to 2016. Military officials have insisted that no further postponements are in sight.
Stars and Stripes’ Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this story.