The push among some members of the Loudoun County School Board to divest the property of the former Middleburg Elementary School building is puzzling—both for the level of enthusiasm to take the action and for the persistence in repeatedly reviving it.
The board is exploring talks with the Board of Supervisors and the Middleburg Town Council to have one or the other take ownership of the property, which is the home of the Middleburg Community Charter School. Neither has much of a taste for that suggestion. They shouldn’t. They’re not in the school business.
The central fact that appears lost in this debate is that the Middleburg Community Charter School is a public school. The school is under the control, through a contract, of the School Board. It enrolls Loudoun’s public school students. It provides an educational service that is in demand by Loudoun families. It’s a neighborhood school that some students can walk to (just like they do in eastern Loudoun neighborhoods) and it offers a special curriculum and an educational setting that has prompted parents from around the county to drive their children there each day.
This is not a private school simply renting some space that happens to be available.
The existence of the Middleburg charter school—as well as the one in Hillsboro—was the result of this School Board’s threats to shutter these small school buildings. The communities rallied to bring new life—and full enrollment—to the campuses. Instead of celebrating these successes, the School Board appears determined to marginalize them, perhaps even undermine them.
Yes, turning over abandoned school buildings to the county government or to another caretaker is a common practice in Loudoun, one that gave root to the county’s early network of community centers in those spaces.
But this is not the case with this Middleburg school. That property hasn’t been abandoned by educators, or by students, or by the community. And it shouldn’t be abandoned by the School Board.