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NHCS budget would cut jobs, close Virgo

READ MORE: NHCS budget would cut jobs, close Virgo
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Gov. Bev Perdue's state budget plan means a $13 million cut to New Hanover County Schools. But with the state legislature leaning toward an even larger number, Superintendent Tim Markley says he's prepared for up to $20 million worth of cuts.

Dr. Markley presented his budget to the school board last night. Right now, the total reduction is a little more than $14 million. That means almost 300 positions could be cut.

Markley said the majority of positions affected are ones the school system is currently paying with federal stabilization funds. That extra money from the federal government ends this year.

The school board is also planning to close D.C. Virgo Middle School. Markley feels there are facility savings that could be used to save teachers. The school should have almost 400 students, but has an enrollment of just 180.

"Two hundred and twenty parents chose to send their students someplace else based upon whatever criteria was available, open choice, AYP," Markley said. "So when I have to cut $14 million, can I justify keeping a school of 180 open when I could use some of that money to save teaching positions?"

One suggestion is to move students from Virgo to Holly Shelter Middle School.

Another idea is to consolidate Mosley Performance Learning Center and move those kids to Virgo.

Markley said so many positions have been cut over the last few years that there is no more room to trim the fat. He said all cuts now will have an impact on the classroom.

Markely's budget has D.C. Virgo's neighbors talking.

Parents say the school system should cut back on more programs rather than closing an entire school. Families in the district say it's a tradition for their children to go to Virgo.

Many students don't want to go to a different school. They say they like having the option of walking to Virgo because they live so close.

"There's nothing wrong with taking a bus, but when the school is right there and the bus you got to take to go to another school is late, you have to be late for school, but when I'm going right there to D.C. Virgo, I can get up and walk without any problems with me walking or getting to school on time," student Cameron Gause said.

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