Petersburg proposes to close program for gifted students

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Parents and members of the Petersburg community are upset over a proposal to end a program for gifted students.

According to reports, 178 students are currently enrolled in the Blandford Program for Mathematics & Humanities in Petersburg. Parents say their children are educated well by the program. They say shutting it down would be a devastating blow to the entire community.

“I think it’s wrong for this community because our community is already going down a little bit, and if they to take the school away, then a lot of kids that grew up in this community will not have anything else to look forward to,” Keith Blount told 8News Reporter Nakell Williams.

School leaders say closing the Blanford Program could save the district $818,000. According to the proposal, elementary students will be serviced gifted resource teachers for their homeschooling needs. The schedule will be developed in collobaroation with the principal.

Students will take part in enrichment lessons, projects, trips, etc. Activities will be planned during time set aside for elective courses. High school-level students will be seen on a consultative basis by a gifted coordinator and a guidance counselor who will help determine the needs of each student. Students will have the option to select courses at the Maggie Walker Governor’s School, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School and/or  Middle College.

BB35C00D283F4D0B9DB95731F5413E8ADr. Marcus Newsome was recently hired by the board as superintendent. He begins working in the district next month. Newsome says he doesn’t know the details but that Acting Superintendent Linda Shifflette briefed him on her plans.

“To the best of my understanding, the program was never funded whenever it was initiated or implemented,” Newsome said. “Given the economic challenges of the city, there is not funding available for the program for the upcoming school year.

“It is my hope that once we have an opportunity to review the resources, that we will be able to provide the support system for those students in their home school.”

Parents are planning a protest against the proposal at Wednesday’s board meeting. The meeting will be held at Vernon Johns Jr. High School at 6:30 p.m.

Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story. 

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