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  The Jack Britt High School district is experiencing growing pains; if current predictions come true, those pains will worsen significantly in the near future. 
BRAC, the Base Closure and Realignment process at Fort Bragg, will bring approximately 40,000 people to the area by the relocation deadline of Aug. 15, 2011. This number includes U.S. Forces Command, U.S. Army Reserve Command, civilian employees, contractors and their families.
  It is the family component that has officials with Cumberland County Schools concerned. According to local officials, both elementary schools in the Jack Britt district (Stoney Point Elementary and E.M. Honeycutt Elementary), the middle school (John Griffin Middle School) and Jack Britt itself are already operating beyond capacity. Estimates project 6,000 new students in the western part of the county by 2013. While all those children won’t be enrolling in the Britt district, these traditionally high-performing schools and the availability of new housing in the western portion of the county is very attractive for families moving to the area. Honeycutt and Stoney Point have high End of Grade scores; John Griffin’s successes have designated it as a National School to Watch; and Britt has a recent principal of the year, high test scores and the acclaimed Academy of Integrated Technology.
  Dana Faircloth, a realtor with Remax Premiere Properties, says computer-savvy parents research which communities offer a reasonable commute to Fort Bragg; she says they also look at school report cards as well as awards received — items that make Britt attractive to prospective new residents.
  “When I do a listing the first thing I write is Jack Britt school district,” said Faircloth. “It’s what my clients are looking for.” 
  She says location is the backbone of her business and her clients see a variety of affordable housing in the district — both apartments and homes.
  John Griffin Middle School opened 10 years ago with 750 students and currently has nearly 1,400, making it roughly the same size as Southview High School. Mike Mangum, the principal at Griffin Middle School, says he uses varying schedules (both block and standard), utilizes every inch of space (including six new huts) and stringent hallway regulations to maintain the school’s high level of performance. Mangum said he believes the district can meet the coming challenges successfully as long as funding is available to build new schools.
 {mosimage} “The only way this will become a problem is if we can’t build new schools,” said Mangum. “Unless you’re in the hallways during class changes you can’t tell we have 1,400 students here.”
  Conrad Lopes, the Jack Britt principal, is also convinced his school can handle the coming population surge if new schools are built and the county maintains a dialogue with the military to ascertain that changes in the community to assist old and new residents alike.
  “We have a unit with six new classrooms so we don’t have overcrowding yet.,” said Lopes. “The central office does such a great job I don’t forsee this as a problem.”
Cumberland County Commissioner Breeden Blackwell said it’s still a guessing game as to how much money the school system will need to handle the influx of students.     He said he anticipates the federal government “will surely send money, we just don’t know how much or how it will be allocated.” 
  Blackwell said that the commissioners are aware of the overcrowding situation in the Jack Britt district and realizes it district faces challenges because it has “very attractive, high performing schools.”
  Blackwell said meeting the educational difficulties is only one of the problems the western portion of the county will face, as the expected growth brings with it worries about roads, water, sewers and development standards.
  “Frankly, everybody is in a little quandary,” said Blackwell.
  However Blackwell says he is certain that, “BRAC is going to be a blessing for our community and there is no downside if we get the money to make it work.”


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