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Closing Wright School a major mistake 

Last year we undertook a major battle to restore funding for the Wright School in Durham, the only facility of its kind in N.C. Thousands of people signed a petition, and parents and former students came forward with story after story of the amazing success this facility has with treating otherwise untreatable children. The school was saved, or so we thought ("How the Senate budget hurts almost everybody," June 4).

Wright School is a nationally known residential treatment center for children statewide with severe emotional, behavioral and learning difficulties. It serves as a model facility nationwide, and has a sterling record of unqualified success.

The new Senate budget calls for closing the facility this September. This is unconscionable.

Wright School has 24 beds and serves 24 students at a time; however, children rotate in and out of the school monthly. Over the past several fiscal years the school has served an average of 60 children a year, as well as providing outreach services to families and communities. Also, the impact of removing these students from the general population while in treatment means that thousands of other students benefit from the reduced disruption in their classrooms.

The actual cost per child is approximately $45,000 per year. Nothing else comes close to providing a combination of treatment and educational services to this age group at all, much less at this cost.

There are no local resources to treat these children. These children are at Wright School precisely because what meager local resources exist are not equipped to treat children with this magnitude of issues, and parents and families have already exhausted any other means of treatment.

I beg you to come together and do what is best for the children of N.C. and their families who rely on the Wright School to quite literally save lives.

J. Reed

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