FORT BRAGG, N.C. - With more than 5,000 students enrolled in 10 Fort Bragg schools, including those at Linden Oaks and on Pope Air Force Base, the challenge to meet students' educational needs does not go unmet. Enrollment increased by about 300 to 400 students over last year's figures and will likely continue, said Michael Thornburg, education operations chief.

"DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) schools was able to supply us with all needed equipment and curriculum material to deal with this increased enrollment," Thornburg said.

Staffing needs have also been met, he said. The educator-to-student ratio varies according to grade level, but typically hovers at 18 to 1 for kindergarten through third grades and the low 20s for higher grade levels, added Thornburg.

Because of DoDEA's professional commitment to students and because of the support of staff, Fort Bragg officials have not had to approach parents for any specific help concerning high enrollment.

Instead, measures taken to meet high enrollment needs have been the standing up of Gordon Elementary School at Linden Oaks last year and plans are underway to construct a new elementary and middle school there in fall 2011.

Replacement schools will be built in future years, including at Irwin Intermediate School, which currently houses the education administrative offices on Knox Street. Irwin Intermediate School will eventually be turned back over to the garrison, said Thornburg.

With more than 30 years in education, Thornburg says he has seen Fort Bragg make productive changes to meet the educational needs of its students.

Those changes will continue as Fort Bragg strives to produce students who will find success both inside and outside the classroom, joined by parents who actively seek to enroll their children in schools on the installation.

"We have an excellent school system," Thornburg said. "We try to be very supportive of our students and their Families."