Midland Valley Preparatory School, a public charter school, is scheduled to open in August at the site of a controversial private school that was never completed.
The building that originally was going to house Compass Academy has been sold for just more than $1 million, according to Dan Bracken of Leonardi Bracken Real Estate Inc.
Midland Valley Prep, which is changing the school name to Horse Creek Academy, will relocate to the unfinished 53,000-square-foot building. Classes are expected to start in August.
In February, Midland Valley Preparatory School announced that it was planning to purchase the property on which Compass Academy was being constructed.
Aiken County Council reviewed a resolution at a February meeting to support the issuance of Economic Development Revenue bonds up to $6 million to Midland Valley Preparatory School so it could complete the construction and relocate its institution to the Toolebeck Road property.
In a press release, the court-appointed receiver, Sherri Lydon, said she is pleased with the purchase price for a facility planned for use as a school.
The property had been the center of controversy for the past year.
Jay Brooks and his companies, J. Brooks Financial and Brooks Real Estate Holdings, were accused by the state attorney general's office of illegally selling unregistered securities to fund the establishment of Compass Academy.
Most recently, Brooks has been living in Texas.
Authorities there have been trying to locate him in connection with new charges in that state.
Midland Valley Prep, which opened in 2002, will change its school and incorporated name to Horse Creek Academy, serving grades kindergarten though eighth.
New construction and renovations of the unfinished school facility are underway, said Principal Patty Strom.
The school name was selected because of the proximity to Aiken's horse community, Strom said.
Appropriately, perhaps, “The school looks like a barn, believe it or not,” Strom said with a laugh. “We currently have 190 students, and we're looking at going to 306 students under our business plan.”
Strom is looking to double the enrollment of grades kindergarten through fifth through open enrollment, which will close on May 30.
Grades sixth through eighth have a total of 94 students, and Horse Creek plans to maintain that number for the next five years.
As a public charter school, Horse Creek has no tuition.
The children currently enrolled at Midland Valley Prep will get priority for 2014-15, and, “It looks like we may have to hold a lottery,” Strom said.
The existing 4-year-old kindergarten class will become a paid program, which Strom said will be competitive with private preschools.
Students attending the 4-K classes will be guaranteed a 5-K slot the following year, she said.
For more information about the school and enrollment, call 803-226-0160 or 803-594-1028.
A Denver company, which works with charter schools throughout the nation, assisted Midland Valley Prep with the sale processes.
Representatives of that firm are expected to join the board of directors for a walk-through at the new buildings on May 21.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned this summer.
Much of the work to get to this stage “wouldn't have gotten this far without Patti's energy and for her love and education of our children,” said Jason Shealy, the board vice chairman. “The school is also a business to run, and she is basically doing two jobs. We're fortunate to have Patti and her staff.”
Digital new editor Amy Banton contributed to this story.
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Construction continues at the property formerly known as Compass Academy. Midland Valley Preparatory School has purchased the property and will change its school name to Horse Creek Academy.×
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