By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Shenandoah County supervisors received an update this week on the status of the old Edinburg school project, which would include turning part of the facility into a school for emotionally disturbed and autistic students in the valley.
County Administrator Douglas Walker said the county has completed evaluations of the organizations that responded to the RFP for education services.
"Our most preferred is the Charterhouse School, an affiliate of United Methodist Family Services," he said. The county is now in the midst of negotiating a contract with the group so that it can be brought before the board for approval at its Aug. 28 meeting.
The county is now acting as the "landlord" for the facility, Walker said. The school system's relationship to the selected tenant would be strictly operational. Additionally, the facility could be used by surrounding counties that wish to participate.
During a Board of Supervisors meeting in June, Superintendent B. Keith Rowland explained that these groups of students who would benefit from the new facility are already being transported outside of the county, sometimes as far away as Manassas and Harrisonburg, so having an option closer to home would save money.
Walker said if things go as planned with the Charterhouse School, then the county can maintain that the project is self-sustaining, in that the tenant's rent would cover the cost of necessary renovations.
"We're optimistic that we'll be able to maintain that," he said.
The committee reached a consensus that the Charterhouse School would best serve the designated special education students, Walker said.
"Emotionally disturbed students and autistic students require two different settings and methodologies," he said. "The Charterhouse School provided an overall better approach that could serve both of these groups."
On it's website, charterhouseschool.org, the Charterhouse School describes itself as an educational service for students ages 11 to 22, and emphasizes "introduction to the skills they need to be successful in life." One of the goals the school lists on the website is to "identify and strengthen resiliency in order to return students to a less restrictive setting."
Walker pointed out that the project hasn't changed since it was first presented in Feb. 2011. He added that the facility should be available to the community for use during after-school hours.
"We are comfortable moving forward with this project," he said.