Shenandoah County Board Approves Edinburg Center

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald
WOODSTOCK — After 18 months, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors approved plans to move forward with the Edinburg Learning Center project at its meeting Tuesday.
The board OK’d three action items pertaining to the center after hearing almost an hour of public comments both supporting and opposing the project.
The Edinburg Learning Center, which will operate out of the former Edinburg Middle School building, will serve students with autism and severe emotional disabilities in the county as well as regionally. Before the school opens next fall, the facility is due to receive extensive renovations.
On Tuesday, the Board approved a comprehensive plan with the contractors, Caldwell Santmyer Inc., a lease agreement between the county and the education provider, Charterhouse School, and financing for the project with $4.5 million in bonds through the Virginia Resources Authority.
Each action item was approved on a 5-to-1 vote. Supervisor Dick Neese cast the sole dissenting vote each time.
Neese said he felt uneasy “rolling the dice” to spend the funds when Charterhouse School could technically be let out of the lease if enrollment were to drop below 20 students, or if the company gave 365 days notice.
Shenandoah County Schools Superintendent B. Keith Rowland responded, saying he already found 15 students just in the county who would definitely enroll in the school for the fall.
“I’m worried about having enough space,” Rowland said.
Supervisor Dave Ferguson asked Charterhouse School representatives who were in the audience whether they planned to stay in Shenandoah County for the full 30 years outlined in the lease agreement.
“Yes, if not longer,” one representative answered.
Charterhouse School, a nonprofit Richmond-based specialty education provider, will act as a tenant, renting the Edinburg facility from the county.
The $300,000 annual rent will be used to pay off the debt service from the cost of the renovation.
The comprehensive plan with Berryville contractors Caldwell Santmyer also includes renovations to the historic Woodstock courthouse on Main Street. Work on the two buildings will take place concurrently.
The courthouse renovation cost of around $1.3 million will come from funds that were left over from the construction of the health and human services building and the new courthouse in 2010.
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