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Contract, business model presented for Edinburg School project

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

While the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors learned more about the educational benefits associated with the Edinburg School project last week, they were also presented with proposed terms for the contract between the county and Charterhouse School, as well as a business model and plan of finance.

County Administrator Doug Walker outlined what Charterhouse School would do for the county given the contract and facility for special education students receives approval.

According to his part of the presentation, Charterhouse School would provide the county with education services for day placement students with autism and emotional disabilities. Beginning in the first year, the organization would pay the county $300,000 in annual rent, to include utilities, for use of the old Edinburg School. Beginning in year four, Charterhouse would then pay an additional $2,000 per student per year when the average daily number of students exceeds 30.

"Keep in mind that all of this fits into Charterhouse's business model," Walker said. The contract, as presented would be good for 30 years, and Charterhouse would be able to cancel it with 365 days notice. Charterhouse could also cancel the contract at the start of the school year or semester if, after year two, the average census drops to 20 students.

From the same contract, the county is required to renovate, furnish and equip the facility "in a manner consistent with approved preliminary design for program use during normal school hours."

"They need a facility that works for them," Walker said. The county also will need to provide two teachers during the first two years of the program, and beginning in the third year, provide one teacher given that an average daily student number of 39 is achieved in the second year. The county also has the ability to cancel the contract with 365 days notice.

"There is risk and opportunity tied to the number of students participating," Walker said.

The county's budget manager, Garland Miller, walked the supervisors through a return on investment model for the project.

If the county chose to keep the building vacant and unused, Miller found that there would be a deficit in the county - almost $16,000 a year -- because funds would still be used to pay for utilities. However, if the county chose to go with partial use of the building, that deficit would grow.

While $3,350 in revenue would come to the county if Parks and Recreation used it, expenses from utilities and paying a custodian would grow to almost $60,000 a year. Miller then added the proposed yearly debt service payment for capital improvement -- about $170,000 -- to bring the yearly project deficit to a little more than $235,000 a year.

If the county chose to partner with Charterhouse School and comply to the proposed contract terms, Miller estimated that over a five-year period, the project would generate a $24,775 surplus given that the facility served an average of 40 students by year four.

Miller said that major factors were transportation and utility costs. If the building received the proposed renovations, the county could save over $15,000 a year on utilities as they would be more efficient. Additionally, since the county would no longer have to pay for students to be transported to Manassas or other locations, over $55,000 in savings would be realized.

"The transportation savings is one component that I could isolate that is directly applicable to this situation," he said. Even after subtracting funds to employ teachers and to pay the debt service and capital improvements expense, the county would see an almost $300 surplus in the first year of the project. According to Miller's figures, which he noted are "constantly moving," after 10 years of the program serving 60 students a year, the county could have an almost $350,000 return on investment.

Cortney Rogers of Davenport & Company explained that the project is able to be financed via tax-exempt bonds and presented three "viable options" for the county.

One option states that a "portion of the project could be financed via state Virginia Public School Authority; however, governmental use portion would have to be financed via another mechanism." Rogers said this option would require different financing which would increase the cost of issuance.

Given that information, he recommended that the county look closely at option two: all of the project could be financed via state pool such as Virginia Resources Authority; and keep option three -- competitively bid to local and regional financial institutions -- as a backup.

Supervisor David Ferguson asked Rogers if the project was able to pay for itself.

"It depends on the success of the program, but if rates stay the same...it makes sense," Rogers said.

The next steps for the project are for the Board of Supervisors to consider the contract with Charterhouse School, consider the PPEA Comprehensive Agreement with Caldwell-Santmyer Architects for design-build services and approve the preferred project financing mechanism, all at the board's Sept. 25 meeting.


You have failed to give all the facts in your article! Like if the county does not provide a minimum of 20 students {there are 15 qualifying at present} the Charterhouse may pull out of the aggreement without penilty. Then what happens?
I guess the building with its $5,000,000.00 in renovations can set dormant again. How do we pay for this boondoogle? I guess the VRA comes to mind, and once again the BOS will borrow more money than the project costs so they can make payments on the project until the tax payers forget about the funds spent and raise taxes again for more debt that we are occuring weekly! There is a perfectly good school that is available in Maurytown that is ready for use now! The BOS will not even look at this school because in reality The Edinburg School Project has nothing to due with Children with Special Needs, it is about a promise that Daivd Furgusen {the Board of Supervisor from that district} made to the Edinburg Town Council that he would find a use for that Building and Rehab it at the County Tax payers expence. Well at least we will know what Mr. F's. legacey will be.
Come on Shenandoah County Wake Up, Stand Up! Enough is enough!!!!

So 5 million to renovate the building, paying two teachers salaries, and the utilities. How is that going to save money? What am I missing? Oh, and will the county have to pay to send local children to this school? I just don't see how it can work. The school in Maurertown may be a better idea at only 2 million. But if thats the case why doesn't Charterhouse just buy it themselves.

As the saying goes, figures don't lie but liars sure do figure!!

It does seem that the 100K to fund 2 teachers, the cost of attending students, and other costs have been left out ... and all of a sudden Charterhouse can cancel at the beginning of any term that numbers are not adequate. The real solution is to sell this white elephant ... that would eliminate ANY deficit!! There are MANY alternatives to provide a facility at a MUCH lower cost (facility cost, cost per student, operating cost, etc.)

Have to agree with the prior poster that "education" is not at the heart of this proposal. One of these days the citizens of ShenCo may actually received the truth, the WHOLE truth, from its government .... but not from this existing board.

The real question here is how can Shen. Co. afford this $5,000,000.00 renovation yet they somehow cannot afford to provide adequate school transportation for our public school children now. Our children are being packed on the school buses 3 and 4 to a seat some standing some sitting on eachother's laps, some sitting against backdoors of the schol bus. Children are also having to ride on hour long bus rides because the routes have been doubled. All due to a budget cut. So somebody please explain to me how we can't afford to run all of our school buses.

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