Construction of the Charterhouse School in Edinburg is a great project which highlights the diverse ways in which VRA is helping residents across Virginia. Shenandoah County borrowed $4,495,000 from the Virginia Pooled Financing Program (VPFP) for a 30-year loan to renovate the school's original 23,000 square foot building and construct a 4,600 square foot addition. VRA financed this project for special needs students as part of the fall of 2012 VPFP transaction. The project came to fruition one year later, on August 16, 2013, when the renovations were completed and the new school officially opened.
This loan through the VPFP helped address a need in Shenandoah County and surrounding localities by providing an effective learning environment for its special needs students. The County is using UMFS (United Methodist Family Services), a non-profit known for providing quality educational services, to operate the Edinburg School.
The Edinburg School is available to assist students from adjoining localities, which generates additional tuition revenues used to defray the building's operations and maintenance costs, the educational costs related to the County's instructional staff and the debt service requirements. This building provides a new learning environment and much more. It also will be available to the Parks and Recreation Department and as a location for Meals on Wheels.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony included a number of community leaders who were on hand to celebrate this important event. The attendees included former Shenandoah County administrator Doug Walker, retired Superintendent of Shenandoah County Schools Dr. Keith Rowland, Chairman of Shenandoah Board of Supervisors Dr. Conrad Helsley, CEO of UMFS Greg Peters, Executive Director of Charterhouse Schools Dr. Erik Laursen and Principal of the Edinburg School Tonya Salley-Goodwin.
When the new school opened, Greg Peters, CEO of UMFS, remarked "Being a part of this community and seeing the enthusiasm that everyone has for the renovation of the school has been wonderful. It has been amazing to talk to the folks working on the building and hearing the stories of how they went to Edinburg School. Knowing that students with emotional, intellectual and learning disabilities will now have the chance to learn in this building should give every resident a feeling of excitement."
Today, over seven months after it opened, families are noticing the impact it has on the 21 children who attend the Edinburg School. Donna Spindle, whose nephew, Sam, is a special needs student, considers the school a "miracle worker." Spindle noted dramatic improvements in Sam's behavior, cognitive ability and self-confidence. "He's not just a better student, he's a better person," she commented.
Classes at the school are micro-sized, with sometimes as few as 2-3 students assigned per teacher, to allow teachers to give their students maximum attention. Specialized attention is important in a school where every student falls on the autism spectrum or has a learning disability. The Edinburg School works to cultivate a sense of normalcy for these children, ranging in ages from elementary school to high school. The kids take part in many of the same activities that millions of school children across the nation get to enjoy every year. They participate in physical education, take cooking and art classes, go on field trips, receive special visitors and assist with service projects in their community.
- Year Funded: 2012
- Term: 30 years
- Amount: $4,495,000 from the Virginia Pooled Financing Program