When Village Academy Schools in Powell announced mid-July it would be closing for the 2019-2020 academic year, teachers were told their contracts were being terminated and they would not be paid their final paychecks for the school year.
On Wednesday, the Delaware County Finance Authority announced in a press release that it has approved a $137,000 grant to Village Academy Schools to provide staff with their last paycheck. The grant, however, does not apply to administrators who are financial stakeholders in the school.
“We felt making sure the staff was paid was the right action to take for the Powell community and Delaware County,” said Donald Rankey, treasurer of the Finance Authority and chairman of the organization’s Finance Committee. “The Finance Authority understands and appreciates the value of education, and teachers are the ones on the front line each day working diligently to educate tomorrow’s leaders. We hope this lightens the impact of the disappointing events leading to the school’s closing.”
According to the press release, the Finance Authority assisted Village Academy in 2009 with reinvestment into its campus by issuing bonds totaling $6.3 million.
“This is an amazing gesture by the Finance Authority,” said Bob Lamb, Delaware County Economic Development director. “This is an extremely generous grant and, in all candor, not something you would see in many communities. The hard work the Finance Authority has put in assisting with our county’s economic development over the past several years enabled them to make this grant to Village Academy’s staff.”
The Village Academy Board of Trustees announced July 16 that the school would be closing. The next day, July 17, the school’s website, villageacademy.org, was replaced with a letter from the Village Academy Board of Trustees.
“Village Academy is no longer able to provide educational services that support its mission, therefore the Board of Trustees has decided that Village Academy will be closing its doors, effective Friday, July 19, 2019,” the letter states. “We wish our community future success.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Village Academy had a total of 294 students for the 2015-2016 school year.
The Finance Authority states in the press release that once the announcement was made the school would be closing, Powell Mayor Jon Bennehoof, who serves as the Finance Authority’s secretary, quickly convened a meeting with school officials.
Bennehoof advocated for a grant and a memorandum of understanding that would assist the school with the liquidation of property to meet financial obligations and minimize the impact of the closure on the community, the press release states.
“I couldn’t stand by without getting involved and attempting to divert this potential negative outcome,” Bennehoof said. “I now know, since the Finance Authority has approved the memorandum of understanding with Village Academy, there is significant hope that the Village Academy campus may soon be repositioned as a school.”
Bennehoof and Rankey said the Finance Authority and the county’s Office of Economic Development are exploring potential buyers and other possible uses for the property but hope to keep it as a school site.
In the press release, a spokesman for the school’s trustees states, “We greatly appreciate the Delaware County Finance Authority stepping up to assist us.”
The Delaware County Finance Authority is a quasi-governmental entity devoted to promoting economic development and assisting businesses interested in relocating in Delaware County through tax-exempt or tax-structured programs. The seven members meet monthly to help chart future development in the county. For more information visit: https://dcfa.co.delaware.oh.us/.
The county’s Office of Economic Development is the central point of contact to explore economic development opportunities. Director Bob Lamb can be reached at 614-306-1020 or visit: https://economicdevelopment.co.delaware.oh.us.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.