For the past five years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District has partnered with the Department of Defense Education Activity providing furniture and equipment for schools around the world.
DoDEA is a federally-operated school system, and according to their website, is responsible for planning, directing, coordinating and managing prekindergarten through 12th grade educational programs on behalf of the Department of Defense.
“We did our first project with DoDEA in 2014,” said Brian Cash, Louisville District program manager.
Murray Elementary School at Fort Stewart in Georgia was the furniture team’s first project, and the completion of that project helped build the relationship with DoDEA.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers serves as DoDEA’s construction contracting agent, and Louisville District’s Brian Cash and Jared Korfhage are the primary project managers who oversee contract execution and furniture delivery. The DoDEA Furniture team also includes Budget Analyst Annette Mode who provides budget support for the program. Louisville District’s interior designers primarily include Liche Sastro and Colleen Crum, and they provide Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment, also known as FF&E, with the attributes required for the 21st Century style of learning.
“We started with just procuring furniture, but the program has grown into much more. For example, now we provide anything from broadcast and physical fitness equipment to security cameras,” Korfhage said. “Whatever DoDEA and the school needs, we are there to support.”
The furniture process includes the review of products, layouts and design colors. The team is also responsible for the contracting process, including shipping, installation, punch inspection and a post-occupancy visit to ensure quality assurance. The district team collaborates with the school’s principal and teachers on the type of furniture they desire in the classrooms, kitchenette, storage space, group rooms, administration suites, health unit and common areas. Additional spaces that may need furniture and equipment could include an occupational and physical therapy room, computer lab and gymnasium. The team orders anything from typical furniture like tables and chairs to audio visual equipment, physical fitness equipment, fire extinguishers, AEDs, evacuation chairs and more.
“We enjoy working with DoDEA and take a lot of pride in what we do,” Korfhage said. “To see the end product and students using what we’ve helped put together is very rewarding.”
In addition to working with the schools, the Louisville District DoDEA Furniture team works diligently with DoDEA and conducts site visits at different phases throughout the project to include a furniture punch inspection at the end to ensure everything required has been received. The team also provides guidance and direction to each vendor so they understand the requirements and expectations during the shipping and installation phase.
“Since 2014, we have helped with approximately 30 schools and are currently working on 11 more that will open between now and August 2020,” Cash said. “In addition, there are 45 school projects that have been identified in the next 10 years.”
DoDEA’s schools are divided into three areas: Europe, Pacific and the Americas, and the Louisville District DoDEA furniture team assists in all three areas.
“We have projects in the United States, Korea, Japan, Germany, Spain and future projects in Italy, United Kingdom and Brussels,” Cash said.
In Fiscal Year 2018, the DoDEA furniture program awarded $13.5 million in contracts involving 19 schools, completed installs on eight schools and was officially assigned the outfitting program in February 2018. The outfitting program is made up of a team leading the 21st Century educational facility project. The outfitting team identifies stake holders and key players who are critical to the success of a new school opening.
“I have really enjoyed growing the program and working with the schools,” Cash said. “The team has worked diligently to put ourselves in position to execute for several years to come.”