Are local schools seeing growth due to BRAC? - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Are local schools seeing growth due to BRAC?

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Muscogee County School District was planning for thousands of new students because of Base Realignment and Closure or BRAC, but so far, the numbers fall short.

Madison Bramlett and Nikolas Lauve are first graders excited to head back to school in Columbus in just a few days.

"We have centers.  We had fun.  We got to color," said Bramlett.

"I just love it all.  I love it all," said Lauve.

However, it seems like they will not be joined by about 4000 students Valerie Fuller with the Muscogee County School District said were projected to hit Columbus because of BRAC.

"Thus far, we haven't seen a huge influx of students because of BRAC.  Approximately 50 to 54 here at the Central Registration office."

Fuller said those numbers could increase some because students whose parents registered them at their individual schools have not been counted yet.

As for other areas expecting BRAC, Harris County School Superintendent Craig Dowling said they planned for about 300 and are seeing 35 new students possibly because of BRAC.  Dowling says Harris County may not be seeing the expected numbers because of the housing market.

"We do not have a lot of rental property, and people moving in are trying to sell houses where they are leaving, and right now, it is not a good time to be buying a home. Especially if you have a home you cannot or have not sold or if you are planning to be in a place for a few years.  You think to rent instead of buy," explained Dowling.

Fuller said the number of BRAC students has been hard to predict.

"We don't know where those parents or students are going to live.  Maybe they choose to live in other counties.  Maybe they chose not to move at all."

There is $1 million in the Muscogee County School District budget for the upcoming school year allotted to help with BRAC.

Fuller said that money will stay set aside in the general fund for the year.

She said people could still move in throughout the year.  So, more BRAC students could still learn their ABC's and 1,2,3's in the Valley.

In East Alabama, they are seeing a little more impact because of BRAC.  In Russell County, Superintendent Mike Green says they are expecting 300 new students due to BRAC. The only specific number they have right now is 41 new military students at mount olive elementary.

The Phenix City school system does not have specific numbers just yet but Superintendent Larry DiChiara predicts 500 new students overall, this school year.

He says, over the last six years, they have averaged at least 200 new students annually that number higher last year, already showing BRAC impact.

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