Discussion Over Unloading Middleburg School Property Still Churning

The debate over whether the school system should give up the county’s oldest operating school building, housing Middleburg Community Charter School, will now go to the Joint Board of Supervisors/School Board Committee.

The School Board’s Charter Committee briefly discussed last week whether the school system should declare the property as surplus and turn it over to the Town of Middleburg.

Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), who chairs the Charter Committee, suggested the move last year, remarking the school system is “not in the business of leasing property.” He, and other School Board members, have suggested the Town of Middleburg take ownership of the school campus. Legally speaking, the property would first need to be handed over to the county government.

“The original facility was the town’s, so it is fitting, at least from my perspective, that we try to give it back to the town,” Hornberger said.

Kevin Lewis, assistant superintendent of Support Services, told board members at an April 25 meeting that the county estimates it would cost the town much more than the school system to operate and maintain the building.

Hornberger said, if the school system transfers the school’s current maintenance and services contracts over to the town, the costs should stay level. “If this goes forward we’re trying to make it as smooth as possible,” he said.

The school, built in 1911 and given to the school system to house Middleburg Elementary School, is valuable, Hornberger added. “I don’t know why the town wouldn’t see this as an asset, having a building that they gave to the School Board initially. That property has huge value.”

Middleburg Town Manager Martha Semmes has said that may be more than the town can take on. “If we had a gazillion dollars or something and double the size staff we have, it might be OK,” Semmes said. But she said for a town of 800 people, being landlord to the property might not be fiscally possible.

The discussion will now go to the Joint Board of Supervisors/School Board Committee. Its meeting initially scheduled for May 3 has been pushed back to June 7. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. at the Loudoun County Government Center in downtown Leesburg.

dnadler@loudounnow.com

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