TIKRIT, Iraq, (Multi-National Force-Iraq, Nov. 21, 2006) - Construction of a $269,000 primary school that will educate approximately 300 children began September 2006 in a newly developed area of Kirkuk, Iraq.

Working through the Provincial Reconstruction Development Council and the local maneuver unit, the 25th Infantry Division, the Governorate of Kirkuk requested the construction of a permanent facility to replace the tent school in Zakros.

Funded through the Commander's Emergency Relief Program (CERP),this project will maximize employment opportunities for local Iraqi suppliers, craftsmen and laborers in the neighborhood where the work is executed. CERP projects were developed to meet the immediate needs of the Iraqi citizens and have a direct and immediate impact on the local communities. Not only will this project increase employment opportunities for the local population, it will promote the employment of women as well.

The construction of this facility will include four buildings: two classroom structures that house 6 classrooms each, an administrative building and a latrine. Also contained in the construction package are a playground, a 75 kva backup generator and furniture to fill the rooms, as well as a perimeter fence surrounding all.

The larger and more technical projects, like this one, that will outlast the maneuver unit deployment periods are often managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Assuring quality workmanship and adherence to safety requirements, USACE provides Contracting and Construction Management as well as Quality Assurance for the over-all project.

"Because we are not on a rotation schedule," says Lt. Col. Thatch Shepard, USACE Deputy Commander, Gulf Region North District, "we provide the continuity required to see this project, and the many others, to fruition. Our technical assets and experience in theater provide the maneuver units that sense of comfort that their project (and promises to the Iraqis) will be accomplished to standard."

The Government of Iraq with the help of the coalition forces continues to make improvements in providing basic services to the Iraqi people. To date, 833, building and education projects have been completed at the cost of $126 million.

Mike Bransford, the Kirkuk USACE Area Engineer speaks of the reconstruction effort, "We are making a difference here, little by little. The true meaning of why we are here, looking towards the future, is for the children. Without a doubt, the future of Iraq is the children."

It will be years before Iraq is running on its own. Yet each day they are getting a better life thanks to the dedicated American soldiers and civilians working to rebuild their country. The use of funds from the Commanders Emergency Relief Program paves the way for local and regional stabilization by allowing for small rebuilding projects that have an immediate impact on the local population.