New Hanover County moves forward with Virgo plans, hopes to hire principal by March

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Since August, DC Virgo Middle School has been closed. However, next fall, students could very well once again be roaming its halls if New Hanover County Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley has his way.

The New Hanover County School Board met Tuesday night to discuss the future of Virgo.

However, at Tuesday's meeting, NHC Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley presented new plans about Virgo Middle School, outlining what it will look like if and when it reopens.

The school is eligible to reapply for a charter status in April; however, Dr. Markley now says that he intends to make Virgo a traditional public middle school.

Still, Markley says, it will differ from other public schools.

"We're going to start from scratch and are going to pay close attention to who we hire," he said. "Hiring the principal and other top positions are going to have the community involvement. Also, we feel we're far enough along with technology where textbooks won't be issued. Kids will do things online."

Wednesday, Markley told WECT that if board members approve his idea, the first year the school opens there will just be sixth graders. Then, he said, seventh and eighth grades would be added later.

School board members  Elizabeth Redenbaugh and Dorothy Deshields are the only two who were against Virgo becoming a charter school, and both say that Markley's new idea is what they wanted all along.

"Frankly, turning a public school into a charter was a slippery slope," said Redenbaugh. "This may be to the extreme, but it could have led to parents signing petitions and wanting  to turn a public into a charter school. If you have a school board willing to do it, then it could have led to that.

Markley would like to see the school have longer days and students would not have textbooks; everything would be done electronically online.

Additionally, Markley would like the school to have an advisory board, with three members appointed by the school board and three by a blue ribbon commission.

PPD has already donated $75,000 towards the project, to be allotted for school uniforms, professional development for faculty and staff and signing bonuses for teachers.

Board members will vote on Markley's proposal at next month's board meeting.

If approved, the school would open next fall.

Copyright 2012 WECT. All rights reserved.