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Windsor Town Council opposes school closure

WINDSOR — Several citizens, including the entire Town Council, urged Dr. Michael McPherson, superintendent of Isle of Wight County Schools, to reconsider all other options in the schools’ fiscal 2011 budget before closing Windsor Middle School.

McPherson briefed council members on the proposed $59.1 million school budget last week. Citing a reduction of some $2.5 million in state revenues, he said the board had no choice but to find ways to cut back.

Proposed cuts, in addition to closing the school, include eliminating some jobs, delaying school equipment purchases and reducing resources.

“I wish I could give you better news, but budget cuts are affecting all of us,” McPherson said.

He added that some changes could occur in state funding in the final days of the General Assembly session, which ended several days after the Town Council meeting.

“We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Of more than a dozen opponents to the school closing in the audience, only one resident spoke about the issue. Melvin Atkinson, representing the Windsor Middle School PTA, asked McPherson and the School Board to have an open mind when making the cuts.

“We realize that you have a big job in trimming the budget, but the Windsor Middle School PTA would like to go on record as opposing the closing of our school.

“Please consider other options. For instance, a recent survey I saw showed that furloughs for school personnel, as opposed to cutting jobs, could save money for the system, while keeping much-needed workers.

“That could be an option.”

Council members voiced their concerns later in the meeting. Greg Willis said there must be another way to save money.

“These are our children, who we owe a good education. I really hate to see their school closed.”

Councilwoman Carita Richardson said she had empathy for the school board and McPherson, but it would be painful to close the school.

“We have a great school system that’s working well. We need to look for other ways to solve this problem.”

Councilman William Jones agreed that closing the school is not the answer. He, too, is in favor of working something out to keep the school open, perhaps with the county Board of Supervisors, he said.

At the close of discussion, council members agreed that Mayor Marvin Crocker should write a letter to McPherson and the School Board, emphasizing the council’s full support for keeping the school open.