WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The New Hanover County School Board unanimously voted Tuesday night to approve Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley's plan to reopen Virgo Middle School.
The school has been closed since August and was denied its desired charter school status in December.
Markley presented a plan at the school board's first meeting of the year explaining that the school would start from scratch and would reopen to the public in the fall of 2012, according to Board member Janice Cavenaugh.
"Hiring the principal and other top positions are going to have the community involvement," he told WECT.com in January. "Also, we feel we're far enough along with technology where textbooks won't be issued. Kids will do things online."
Each student will have their own iPad and teachers will receive hiring bonuses for agreeing to work at the school, according to Board Chairman Don Hayes. The Board anticipates that the school will be a primarily African-American student body, but there will be open enrollment.
"We're going to do everything we were going to do with a charter school, but it just will not be a charter school," Hayes said.
The first year the school opens there will just be sixth graders. Markley's plan includes adding seventh and eighth grades later.
Markley said the board is looking at a number of ways to pay for the iPads, including state and federal money, grant money and funds that would have been used for textbooks.
"We think if we start right from the front with a 21st century school we can give those kids those skills," explained Markley. "I want them when they go to high school to be ready, be successful and then move on to two year, four year colleges, and whatever they want to do beyond that. Regardless of where they come from, I think we can create that environment."
Virgo will be monitored by an advisory board and would partner with the Blue Ribbon Commission. "Having the blue ribbon commission on board is exciting and it should have a great outcome for children in that area," Hayes said.
School board member Dorothy DeShields expressed some concern because 90 percent of the students going to the school are on free or reduced lunches.
Generally, those schools tend to not perform well. Yet, she thinks this will be different, saying that she is thrilled about the signing and performance bonuses the district is going to offer to teachers who want to work at the school. She thinks that those incentives will help them recruit and retain high-quality teachers.
"I'm excited about the new DC Virgo School because of the programs we are going to implement there," said DeShields.
Officials are considering calling the school DC Virgo Preparatory Academy.
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