Letter to the Editor: Officials made right decision on old Edinburg School


Shortly after moving to Shenandoah County, I was made aware of the plight of the old Edinburg School. What would be its fate? Demolition? Repurposing? Theater? Community center? Then nothing. It seemed that things came to a standstill. Then I heard about Charter House, and was delighted the building had been given a new purpose. What I didn’t fully appreciate was what, exactly, that meant for our county, and more importantly, our children:• State and local law requires that children with certain degrees of autism and other developmental disabilities be educated in an appropriate environment.
• Shenandoah County was spending about $1 million per year sending autistic children and children with disablements to schools in Northern Virginia.
• These children spent as much as four hours a day in transit.
• Few, if any, were being successfully mainstreamed.
• While the building’s fate was being discussed, Shenandoah County was paying approximately $40,000 a year in utilities, with it only being used sporadically.

The School Board and Board of Supervisors reached an agreement with Charter House:
• Shenandoah County would upgrade the building.
• Charter House would put in a special needs school.
• Upgrade costs to Charter House specifications were $4.5 million.
• Charter House pays $300,000 a year in rent.
• This rental payment exceeds the mortgage payment.
• The lease runs for 30 years.
• The county will see a net profit of $200,000 over the first five years of this arrangement.
• The building is used for other purposes outside of school hours.
• Parks and Recreation has processed 500 requests for outside groups to use the facility in 2015.
• Fifteen jobs were created in Shenandoah County.
• Decreased transit time for students means more time devoted to education that can help some mainstream.Today, Charter House is a success! Supervisors Ferguson, Helsley, Baker and Neese and School Board members Koontz, Holsinger, Williams-Giersch and Whetzel worked together to make a sound management decision to preserve the historic school house and meet the needs of Shenandoah County’s special needs’ children. These are the kind of decision makers we need to advocate for our children’s educations going forward.

Michelle Manning,  Woodstock