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U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson announced Friday that $6.8 million in federal grant funds have been awarded to improve the quality of education offered to students in the Fort Polk community around Leesville. 

Approved through the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA), the grant will be used toward a Defense Community Infrastructure Program project to fund the construction of a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) laboratory and other learning spaces at Leesville High School, Leesville Junior High School, Vernon Middle School, and Pickering Elementary School. 

“We are grateful the Department of Defense is prioritizing quality of life improvements for the Fort Polk community. This latest announcement to support school upgrades is especially welcome as the Leesville area continues to rebuild from Hurricane Laura,” Johnson said in an official statement announcing the funding. 

Fort Polk was selected in Dec. 2019 as one of three military installations to be studied in a “Quality of Life” assessment in an effort to learn how the Vernon Parish post could become a destination of choice by military families. 

Education was a top item named on the installation’s prioritized list of needs presented to U.S. Army leaders as a result of that study, and in July of this year Rep. Johnson wrote to Sec. of Defense Mark T. Esper requesting the financial assistance to help boost Fort Polk’s educational offerings to military families. 

In his letter, Johnson said the educational improvements would “result in a higher quality of life by expanding learning opportunities, engaging military families, and providing for the conditions that promote student success”.

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