Blacksburg parents ready to fight potential school closings - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Blacksburg parents ready to fight potential school closings

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A number of parents in Montgomery County plan to attend tonight's school board meeting as the school system looks at ways to make up for a nearly four million dollar budget shortfall.

It's still early in the budget process and no decisions will be made tonight but school officials are revisiting the possibility of closing schools. Harding Avenue Elementary and Shawsville Middle are the two previously mentioned as possibilities for closure. Board members mentioned the idea again at a work session last week.

Parents of students at Harding Avenue protested during previous talk of shutting it down and fought to keep the community school open. "We don't want any schools to be closed but especially not this one," said Harding PTA member Jim O'Dowd. "It's an accredited school, it's one of the top schools in Blacksburg. There's no reason for it to be cut."

Initial figures for next year's operating budget for Montgomery County Public Schools has the school division operating at a 2008-09 funding level, with 2014 expenses, according to the school system. The County Administrator's proposed budget is $3.9 million less than what the school system needs to operate. Superintendent Brenda Blackburn has said each closing could save $300,000 a year but parents argue those numbers don't reflect losses like drops in property values or increases in the number students as new homes are built in the area.

Blackburn is now asking for a study to be done to truly evaluate the impact and determine what the cost-savings would be in order to put the issue to rest permanently.

The regularly scheduled meeting is tonight at 7:30 p.m.. The budget is on the agenda but will be discussed as an update based on Monday night's Board of Supervisors meeting.

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