Board approves new school building

Published 8:56 pm Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Prince Edward supervisors voted unanimously to approve Jamestown Presbyterian Church’s special use permit application for the construction and operation of a private educational facility for up to 50 children.

The vote came immediately following a public hearing held at the board of supervisors’ January organizational meeting. No one from the public spoke at the hearing.

A summary in the board meeting packet notes that the proposed private educational facility would be located on Tax Map 27-(6)-C-0, just north of 1751 Lockett Road.

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Addressing the board, Prince Edward County Planning & Zoning Administrator Rob Fowler said, “If you recall, I think in 2016, the board approved the original operation inside the existing Jamestown Presbyterian Church for about 15 students. This proposal would be to build a new facility for up to 50 children, the same hours of operation, the same mission and goal on the property.”

The original operation that is now expanding is called the Full Circle Nature School.

The board packet summary cites that the proposed facility will offer full-time and part-time enrollment options for students, and the school will operate Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. After-school activities will occur from 3-5 p.m., on occasion.

Continuing, the summary stated that the proposed school will utilize a combination of outdoor learning and community service projects as a foundation for the curriculum development, and transportation will be provided by the parents.

Fowler said the Prince Edward County Planning Commission conducted a public hearing Dec. 18, 2018, concerning the special use permit application.

The board packet states that no one spoke against the application at the commission’s public hearing, while four people spoke in support of it. The summary notes that staff did not have any concern of negative impacts on the surrounding properties associated with the request, and the commission recommended forwarding the matter to the board for approval.

“We’ve received no complaints of the existing operation, so I don’t foresee any problems with the expansion,” Fowler told the board. “They’re going to use the existing entrance to gain access to the new parking area. If that doesn’t work, they will need to work with the VDOT representative to create a new entrance, but at this time, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. This is an allowed use for the special use permit in the A1, Agriculture Conservation district.”

Representatives for both the school and the church were on hand at the board’s Jan. 8 organizational meeting.

Full Circle Nature School Director Angela Whittaker told the board, “It’s been a wonderful partnership not only with Jamestown (Presbyterian Church) but also Jamestown Livery across the street that we have our equestrian program with. We’ve had a lot of support from folks, like The Farmer’s Daughters business have made donations and other individuals supporting the school. We’re blessed to be growing, and we’re grateful to be growing, and we’d like to continue to expand our current enrollment. We just can’t do that in our current facilities.

“The expansion is also going to be as green as we can possibly build the building,” she continued. “We’re going to be working with Soil and Water Conservation, upon your approval, to be also getting a cistern in place to control water and use in gardens. So there’s going to be as much green involved in this building as possible and even improvements down the road for environmentally friendly work.”

She noted how the school has grown already.

“We have expanded our grade level down to second grade, and we’re now operating through high school, so we’ve actually opened up the student body a bit because of growth and interest in the school,” she said. “So we’re just grateful and appreciate your support and all that you do to keep this county moving forward.”

Farmville 101 District Supervisor Gene A. Southall asked, “How many people do you employ?”

“Right now I have two full-time teachers, one part time, and we’re talking about putting a part-time person in an after-school position,” Whittaker said. “Next year I anticipate we’ll have three full-time teachers.”

“What about students?” Southall asked.

“We’ll have 11 in two days,” she replied. “We have 10 at the time. We’ll have 11. We anticipate having between 15 and 17 at the end of the year, and I’m hoping by fall, we’ll have at least 22.”

Representing Jamestown Presbyterian Church at the board meeting was Beverly Hines, a trustee.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed having the school in our building,” she said to the board. “It has been a wonderful opportunity for us to use the school as a mission to support the children in our area and to educate them, some of whom thrive better in a more intimate, hands-on situation than in some of the public schools. It’s been a wonderful opportunity. We do anticipate capping that at about 50. Right now, I’m also proud to say that that school has outgrown the building, and therefore we are looking forward to expanding and to building a new building. … It’s kept our little church alive.”