Mariposa County Unified Closes School

March 5, 2009 11:52:49 PM PST
More than 200 people showed up to a special meeting held by Mariposa County Unified's School Board Thursday night. The big draw, the board's decision to shut down the town's only middle school. Its Principal Bill Atwood, whose job is being eliminated, cautioned the crowd not to blame the school board. He said, "These fine people did not cause this. This was caused by Sacramento, Washington D.C., and Bernie Madoff." A lot of parents said they were stunned when the school board voted to close the campus. The district faces a $1.5 million dollar budget shortfall and board members say the unprecedented cuts are unavoidable... at least for now. Board member Debbie Peters said, "It's not a done deal. If we find money we will restore every cut we made Tuesday."

Parents and students in this small mountain community said they're devastated. About 200 of the middle school's students signed a petition begging to keep their school open. Faith McCoy was one of them. She said, "This would limit our education, teachers would lose their job. I ask you to please reconsider this decision to shut down MMS. Please have a heart and don't make us restart."

The school board still doesn't have a plan for where they'll place the 270 students. But some may have to go back to their elementary school. And according to elementary student Camryn Dutrey, that isn't going over well with her classmates. The fifth grader said, "I took a little poll of my own because I wanted to see how our students felt about it. And I found that 20% wanted it and 80% didn't."

Some of the other cuts being made include 20 jobs and the middle school's sports and band programs. It also means class sizes at other schools would grow.

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