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Montgomery County school board approves budget that ends Virtual Academy, cuts office jobs

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Families held a sit-in outside Montgomery County Public Schools offices on Tuesday, in a last-ditch attempt to persuade school officials to keep an at-home learning program.

Montgomery County Public Schools’ board voted, though, to cut the Virtual Academy program. The board unanimously approved a new budget with several cuts, in response to a $30 million deficit.

The Yanevskyy family will have to figure out what to do in the fall.

Virtual Academy student Yaroslava Yanevskyy said she’s alarmed by the news.

“When I found out, I was so stressed that I did not know what I was gonna do,” she said. She said she has epilepsy and regularly has seizures.

“When she was in person, I would get daily phone calls from the school that she had seizures at school. Every single day, I would drop her off at school knowing I would have to turn around and pick her back up,” her mother, Emma Yanevskyy, said.

In addition to ending the Virtual Academy program, the school board voted to:

  • delay pre-K expansion
  • reduce tutoring
  • create fewer STEM opportunities
  • cut 76 central office jobs
  • increase class sizes by one student

Virtual Academy parent Aisha Henderson said her family will have to home school their three kids, who need the flexibility of online learning because of regular hospital visits. Bullying is a factor too.

“My other child, she dealt with a whole lot of bullying and things like that,” she said. “People doesn’t understand that when you’re bullied, it affects you academically.”

Interim Superintendent Monique Felder wrote in the budget proposal that both attendance and graduation rates for the Virtual Academy program “significantly are less than that of the overall district.”

Montgomery County Public Schools previously said that about 120 teachers could potentially be laid off because of the budget cuts. The school system now says all current teachers will likely be able to keep their jobs due to upcoming retirements and increased class sizes.

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