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IW hopes to keep Windsor school open

ISLE OF WIGHT — The Isle of Wight County School Board voted unanimously Thursday to form a committee to determine what is needed to keep Windsor Middle School open.

The School Board also voted to lower tuition rates for non-residents and kept employees’ salaries and wages unchanged.

Acting on a request by the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors, division superintendent Dr. Michael McPherson will put together a committee that will be charged with finding out what is needed to keep WMS open.

“The Board of Supervisors instructed our board to see what it would take to bring that school up to standard,” T. Hayes Griffin, who represents the Windsor District on the school board, said Friday of WMS. “It would take a lot of work. There has not been a lot of money spent on that building over the years because of its age. Just a ballpark figure, we are talking somewhere between $7 [million] and $8 million just for getting it to where it is a livable school.”

Griffin said the money would go toward replacing the building’s windows, adding a new wing of classrooms, replacing an antiquated heating and air conditioning system and building a new cafeteria. He said that with the improvements, WMS could be open for another seven to 10 years.

“That was our long-range goal, anyway,” Griffin said. “We realized we were not going to get a new school, and we were looking at anything to save money.”

The board lowered tuition for non-resident elementary and middle school students to $3,000 per school year, a decrease of $200. The tuition for high school students was also cut, by $220, to a rate of $3,290 per school year.

Tuition for non-resident children on full-time school district employees will continue to be waived.

Katherine Goff, the public information officer for Isle of Wight County Schools, said the division has about 15 non-resident students.

“The School Board receives and approves only a handful of requests each year,” Goff said Friday.

Under the division’s approved budget for the 2011 fiscal year, Isle of Wight County Schools will spend $33,028,981 on salaries and wages, a decrease of 3.3 percent from the previous fiscal year. Salaries and wages account for most — 55.7 percent — of the division’s $59,308,529 budget.