Controversy about School for Students with Special Needs

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email

SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va -- Some people in the county said a new school for students with special needs would bring recognition to the county and expand its educational programs. Other people said it is a plan to misuse resources and would cost taxpayers in the end.

County leaders plan to turn Edinburg School to turn a school for people with special needs, but long-time neighbor Cindy Bailey is against that.

“It was being used,” said Bailey. “What was happening and historically does not happen with the board is we don't take care of what we have.”

Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors members plan to renovate the building and let people with special needs from Shenandoah County and surrounding counties use it. Right now, leaders of the district send some special needs students to other parts of the Valley, and those leaders want that to change that.

The Edinburg School is completely empty right now, but the idea is to get about 60 students enrolled in the school to learn both technical and vocational job training. Dr. Rowland, the district's superintendent, said the school would help these students to receive more training and education than in years before.

“It's a much larger picture now,” said Rowland. “We have to be ready for that large picture and we have to be willing to accept this challenge. This is an opportunity for us to do that.”

Bailey said the county has already lost several businesses and its board of supervisors will not be able to support a project like this one without raising taxes.

“That's just going to have to increase, because we're not getting the businesses in this county to pay for this,” said Bailey.

This project would cost about $4.5 million and none of that would come from taxes according to the superintendent.

Bailey said she is concerned about the future of a county she has called home for years. She wants to stop Shenandoah County from heading into debt.

“We need to try and fix this problem. And not just try. We will.”

The school is scheduled to open in fall 2013.

Now the county has to approve a bid to renovate the old school. They will lease the building for $300,000 over the next 30 years to pay for the project.

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