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Posted June 24, 2012 | comments 17 Comments

United Methodist Family Services likely partner for Edinburg school project

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

After months of meeting with agencies, Superintendent B. Keith Rowland says the county is "right on the verge" of completing a partnership with United Methodist Family Services to take on the part of the old Edinburg school that will be a facility for emotionally disturbed and autistic students.

The private nonprofit organization has a "great track record" and high success rate according to Rowland. He said originally the county planned to take on a special education program, but found that the process was "a little bit more in depth than we thought."

"We've met with them multiple times and told them what we would like our program to look like," he said. "We agree with their beliefs."

Rowland said the goal of the program is to prepare its students with skills to help them obtain employment.

The contract with United Methodist Family Services will require the organization to pay rent for using the old school making it "cost-free to the county."

The Board of Supervisors allocated around $4 million for the facility's renovation, and Rowland says the collected rent should cover that cost.

A little more than 30 students are potential candidates for the school, Rowland said, but he'd like to have at least 40 by the time the school is set to open in the fall of 2013.

"Space is one aspect of why we chose 40 as a good student population, but we also need that many to supply UMFS with an appropriate amount of revenue to make them feel comfortable paying rent," he said. "It's real hard to sell a product that doesn't exist yet."

The potential students would come from Clarke, Page, Rockingham and Shenandoah counties. Rowland said that each school division will be responsible for transporting the participating students.

While there is no tie between the planned school and the regional special education program, Rowland wanted to point out that "just because United Methodist is part of the name, it doesn't mean they'll be teaching Bible classes."

"There is no religious affiliation," he said.

The partnership and project will be up a topic of discussion at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting at the Shenandoah County Government Center in Woodstock at 7 p.m.

17 Comments | Leave a comment

    The decision of the Virginia Resources Authority to sell bonds for the RSW Regional Jail is an historic moment for the Shenandoah County Taxpayers. We will exercise our rights regarding repayment of this unconstitutional debt. There has never been a challenge such as this, and "we the people" have rights.
    Our supervisors choose to borrow and spend hoping the economy will get better and there will be revenue to pay this debt.
    Over the past three years, supervisors repeatedly have told citizens that they had no choice but to build a new courthouse because they had been ordered to do so by the courts. That was not the truth. Although three lower court judges petitioned the circuit court for adequate court facilities (not a new courthouse), no court order was ever issued. Many options were available to meet the facilities needs of those lower courts, but supervisors, not surprisingly, chose the most costly among them.
    Until now this board has been re-elected on promises not to raise taxes even though they are building unnecessarily during the worst recession in 80 years. The county's supervisors have once again broken their promise to the citizens of Shenandoah County and had to raise taxes this year. They will have to raise taxes every year for the rest of our lives and many generations to come. You know what happens to politicians who promise "no new taxes" and the turn around and raise taxes.

    The Old Edinburg School project, which they are advertising as a school for special needs children, with a cost of more than $4 million tax dollars, is also being planned as a Community Center. I have talked with parents who see this project as segregation. Many of the children referred to as special needs are currently in a public school in this county getting the help they need and no one is questioning "why are they there?"

    County Administrator Douglas C. Walker asked for an 8 cent tax hike; the board approved 4 cents. This tax increase does not include paying the following: jail project, Edinburg school, renovating Old Court House to name a few. Please explain how putting disabled children in a community center where adults off the street will have continued access to these children through other programs offered at the school/community center is safer and more secure than the public schools?
    Any reasonable person would determine that this project does not have the best interest of these special students in mind. If anything, these special children potentially will be exposed to a more serious threat due to the community center in the same building. This project has been promoted by Board of Supervisor David Ferguson as a revenue producing program. Is the public getting all the information? There seems to have been a lot of talk behind the scenes regarding this project. A community center/school for the disabled does not sound like an appropriate and safe environment for our most vulnerable citizens in Shenandoah County. We need to make room at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School, utilizing the space initially set aside for 5th graders and/or building onto this school using the land purchased around that school to accommodate these special children, while keeping them close to their classmates.


    Fearing that declining real estate values would force them to increase the tax rate, Shenandoah County supervisors decided to discontinue the practice of reassessing property every four years. The county administrator told the commissioner of revenue that supervisors had discussed the impending reassessment. If supervisors have held such a discussion, it was not done at a meeting open to the public.
    Local government, including schools, depends heavily on real estate taxes for funding. Supervisors would have no choice but to increase the tax rate significantly to collect enough money to finance the cost of government that continues to grow in spite of a poor economy. Did you know you cannot be taxed for more than the fair market value of your property?

    Cindy Bailey

    Concerned Citizens:
    Stand up for free speech and be heard:
    Are we going to let the RSW Regional Jail Authority run our county? Disrespect our citizens and threaten lawsuits for speaking out against unnecessary building projects, or any decision that our leaders make?

    Tuesday, JUNE 26, 7 pm, speak out, stand up or just show up to support free speech at the Board of Supervisors meeting, Shenandoah County Government Center 600 North Main Street in Woodstock.

    Stop our county debt from increasing let your voice be heard. No more Capital Improvement projects. Encourage business growth in our county.

    "COST FREE TO THE COUNTY" YOU MEAN UNITED METHODIST FAMILY SERVICES ARE GOING TO RENT THE BUILDING AND TRAIN STUDENTS WITH SKILLS TO HELP THEM OBTAIN EMPLOYMENT AND THE COUNTY DOES NOT HAVE TO PAY A THING? REALLY, NO WONDER YOU ALL HAVEN'T BEEN TALKING ABOUT IT MUCH IN THE PUBLIC. PEOPLE MIGHT START TO QUESTION YOUR DECISION MAKING OR GULLIBILITY.


    JUST LIKE WITH THE REGIONAL JAIL, RENT BED SPACE, PAY FOR JAIL. THE POMISE OF REVENUE AND 50% STATE FUNDING YOU ALL CLAIM LEAD YOU TO THAT DECISION. HOW IS THAT WORKING OUT FOR YOU? GULLIBLE - AGAIN

    CINDY BAILEY

    WOW! Vociferous, aren't we Cindy?! If you feel that strong about a moot issue, then I applaud you... Obviously, you must see something there where others do not... My ancestors would turn over in their graves if they could see what has been going on behind the scenes in Shenandoah County... Unfortunately, it is "our" ancestors who sired these dimwits to put citizens in this position.. YEA DNA!! Reggie Arno Danville VA...

      Why is this subject NOT open to discussion?

      What little we taxpayers have heard this was a school for special needs children. Now we find out that a community center and training classes will be in the same building. Dr. Rowland told me that right now they transport approximately 12 students out of the county. Where are the other 28 students coming from? Oh wait I know, from our local schools, they are planning to segregate these special and gifted children from their schools and classmates. The schools are doing a wonderful job working with these children and bringing them in to regular classrooms.

      I have a nephew with Asperger's and while he was at WWRobinson he made huge progress and was able to stay in a regular classroom, except for core subjects, which was behind in. Then he moves back to Winchester and does poorly and they have segregated him from his classmates. Dr. Rowland's wife works for Winchester schools and Roland agreed with me, that Winchester does not do as good a job with their special needs children as Shenandoah County. So, Mr. Seraph and Mr. Sword, get all the facts before you attack!

      Cindy Bailey

      Cindy Bailey, Proud to speak for those who can't do it themselves.

    And while we're at it, let's get rid of vehicles!! And the Internet, telephone, paved roads, modern plumbing, and what ever else Cindy Bailey feels is excessive and costs too much! Let's have court in a tent. Let's house inmates in a chain gang with a lean-to and an outhouse. Let's use the horse and buggie as transport. And please, whatever we do, let's remain bottom feeders in the region with each and every aspect of service, because by god we might have to pay for something!

    Don't say that education is important, but not fund it! Don't say to lock up every pervert and criminal offender, but not be willing to pay for a jail to put them in. And before you start, there is NOT room in the basement for a work release to free up space........... Unless you're all in favor of building the sheriff a new office as well! While we're at it, let's just scrap the whole jail deal! I'd much rather my taxes go up to build a new jail in Shenandoah County and have to pay for that solely through county taxes.

      Mr. Sword,

      In answer to your question, you know why, your a smart guy. Live within our means. We have to, shouldn't the local, state and federal governments? Take care of what we have bring in business and help the business community we have. Save money for projects and keep taxes low. NOT THAT HARD TO DO IF YOU THINK REAL HARD AND PLAN AND SAVE FOR THE FUTURE.

        Cindy, people get :"confused" when they see others stand up and fight. If you were a Sam or a Bob they might have less to say, but "Ignorance is Bliss".

        You have made a sound case and I'm hoping Shenandoah County taxpayers come out tomorrow night for this important message. Enough!

        The schools across this country seem more focused on Special Education then anything else. I don't understand why so many students now fall into those brackets.

        Who said: STAND FOR SOMETHING OR FALL FOR ANYTHING? That's where we are folks!

          Diana,
          Schools are more focused now because of federal and state mandates. Do you have child who has any type of disability? If you did, would you not want them to have the same educational opportunitites as mainstream children? The focus on special education is so great because not all children are ready for those same opportunities based on their disabilitites. IT takes more steps and preparation for so many of these students to be able to participate in mainstream classes with thier peers.
          As far as labeling goes.....
          No one knows why exacatly there is an increase in SPED (Special Education) services anymore. It could the environment, prenatal care, genes, or because we know more and more about the brain then we did 20 years ago and we can now understand that someone who was viewed as "nuts" or "wierd" now has a legitamate reason for it and can be helped. If you think that the focus is so much more on special education, go work in it and you will see that the focus is on ALL education. I know some people do not care what happens to our children with mental retardation, Autism, or emotional disturbances and see SPED money being wasted on these individuals who will never live up to society's standards. I don't see it that way. I see it as a way to help many of these kids and adults become more self-sufficient and having a better quality of life. I don't agree with segregating many of these students into one facility, however I can see it in cases where many students who do not function well in a peer-based setting can be helped and can learn to do things for themselves.

            Schools are more focused on Special Education now because that brings in the federal dollars. NCLB (No Child Left Behind) law aims to "lift everyone to a minimum level" forcing schools to subsidize the education of the least gifted at the expense of perhaps higher achievers.

            Unfortunately there is only so much money to go around and I understand about $8 billion a year is going into special education. Not all children should be in the public schools - regardless, nor should these institutions be a drop off point or a babysitter and I'm not convinced that this new community school/center will work either.

            If you want to be hired as a teacher; get into Special Education. In the meanwhile, there are many issues not being resolved (too numerous for this spot) and our public schools are not rated highly compared to other developed nations: so who is winning?

            We don't have all the money or time to experiment. And yes I do know something about children with disabilities (that's my business), but the public schools simply cannot be all things to all people.
            ________________________________________

            Originally this blog., was about WHY anyone needs to show up tomorrow night as Cindy has requested. We the taxpayers expect to have a voice in decisions that we will finance and some of us dislike the idea of being bullied or threatened with legal action due to our opposition.

    Sword,
    Have you taken the time to run the numbers on the Regional Jail? I have and it is not adding up. The Regional Jail is about 5 million more now than what the stand alone jail was proposed to be and that is without the operating cost of 10 million per year for the RJ and increasing through time. Lets deal with facts and not go back to the stone ages.

    The pots start calling the kettle black!

    Cindy, I never asked a question in the previous post so unless you're into answering rhetorical questions, I don't know what to tell you. I voiced my opinion just as you have. I wasn't looking for an answer.

    Diana, I don't agree with you so obviously I'm confused and in need of you to tell me how to think. Thank you, I now understand that you are the only holder of the argument card so I fold!

    Mr. Prince, you seem to be the only person posting on this topic that's basing the argument on figures and facts. While I don't necessarily agree with you, I'm way more willing to hear your argument than the emotional rantings we've seen here for the past month. I could care less whether the jail is built or not. What has me interested is the constitutional question that's been raised. Could you refer me to how this has become an issue and where can I research the specific argument that is being made? By the way folks, that was a question.

    Cindy: What part of "I applaud you," did you misunderstand? And the dimwit issue and sired individuals whom our ancestral DNA contributed.. I think you took the message way out of context.. Reginald D. Arno AKA Seraph..

      Reginald,

      I should not have included you in the same message to Sword. I am sorry. I did feel a need though to express my concerns where the special needs children are involved. I took your statement about a "moot issue" to mean it was a done deal. I know they are bring this before the board tomorrow and we are hoping to express our concerns regarding a Community center/school. Thank you for your comments, we learn and grow everyday when we share ideas and opinions. And yes I do appreciate the applause. I'm just so focused on trying to get this board to listen to reason when it comes to our local economy and spending. Thank you
      Cindy

    Just FYI:

    Dr. Rowland told me on Juen18, 2012 that some
    of these special needs children would still have to be bused out of the county daily for care.

    Just thought you should know.
    Cindy

      Cindy,
      Again.... the school system, even with this type of program, is not going to be able to meet all of the needs of these kids. This is just one way to try to help the masses. We are not ever going to be able to be self contained in being able to help all of our children. Some children have very rare or extrememly challenging disabilities that our system cannot handle and they will still need to be take somewhere else where they can get that. Like I have said, work in special education and you will see things from s different perspective. We do need another way to help our students. This is just one solution being put into motion. Our special education population is extremely diverse in any number of ways.

      As for spending, I fail to see how most of the comments on this article revolve around the jail. How is that linked to this article? Yes, this ventue will cost money, but the center will pay for itself. Personally, I feel that unless you have walked in the shoes of our school administrators and teachers, then how can you criticize anything?

    Cindy: I'm glad you responded... One lone voice in the wilderness will attract many listeners... Good luck tonight and wish I were still there to vote and participate.. If all goes well, mayhaps this Fall.. Reggie Arno Danville VA..


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