Gloucester board commits to New Horizons construction project

Kim Robins - Posted on Jun 12, 2013 - 02:09 PM

The Gloucester County School Board voted 5-0 Tuesday to commit its support for a $10.3 million construction project at the Woodside Lane campus of the New Horizons Regional Education Center (NHREC) in Newport News. Board member Troy Andersen and vice chairman Kevin Smith were absent from the meeting at Gloucester High School.

The new 52,000-square-foot facility at New Horizons will house special education classrooms, which are now in deteriorating modular units. Approximately 250 special needs students attend programs on the campus.

Under the proposed finance structure for the construction project, NHREC will lease the property to the New Horizons Education Foundation Inc., a limited liability corporation that will be established to finance and construct the facility. The LLC will develop a facility lease with the Newport News Economic Development Authority that will allow it to borrow funds for the project.

The EDA will in turn sublease the facility to NHREC and at the end of the lease the LLC will give the building to New Horizons. Each of the six localities that together own New Horizons will pay their respective shares of the lease payments. The lease payments will include tuition the localities pay for their students who attend New Horizons, so a portion of the payment will be reimbursed by the state.

For Gloucester, the annual cost will be $22,687 before reimbursement and $8,617 after reimbursement, for the term of 20 years. "It’s an amount we feel can be managed within our operating budget," division superintendent Ben Kiser told the board. Eleven Gloucester students attended special education programs at New Horizons during the past school year. The new facility is expected to be completed by the fall of 2015.

The board also voted to return to developmental report cards, still used for kindergarten and first grade, for second graders. The second grade reports cards had been changed to the more traditional letter grades of A, B, C, D and F used in upper grades.