Midland Valley Preparatory School is planning to purchase the property on which Compass Academy was being constructed.
Aiken County Council will review a resolution at tonight's meeting to support the issuance of Economic Development Revenue bonds up to $6 million to the school, which is planning to relocate into the 53,000-square-foot building on Toolebeck Road.
The bonds will be issued by the South Carolina Jobs-Economic Development Authority, not the County itself. According to Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian, the law requires that the financing has to pass through the County, but does not obligate the County financially or legally.
The resolution states the bonds would assist in purchasing the 30-acre parcel of land and the partially constructed building. Funds will also cover remaining construction as well as the furnishing and equipping of the building, the resolution reads.
Midland Valley Prep Executive Director Patti Strom said the enrollment of the school, which was established in 2002, has been steadily rising over the years. The school currently has about 190 students enrolled. She said it is practically “bursting at the seams” in its current facility located on Jefferson Davis Highway in Graniteville.
An organization looking to support a variety of charter schools around the country contacted Midland Valley Prep and has assisted the institution in finding a bigger facility.
An auction of the building that would have been Compass Academy was canceled in October after a buyer was found. The buyer purchased the property in good faith on behalf of the school to give it time to obtain the bonds, Strom said.
“It's a rare opportunity to be able to provide this for our families, students and teachers,” Strom said. “We're very excited.”
The property had been the center of controversy for the past year after Jay Brooks and his companies, J. Brooks Financial and Brooks Real Estate Holdings, are accused by the state Attorney General's office of illegally selling unregistered securities to fund the establishment of Compass Academy.
Jay and his wife Tracy have also been accused by the Securities Division of the Attorney General's office of using those funds to buy groceries, their home, vacations and jewelry rather than investing the funds as promised.
Jay Brooks was indicted on two counts of securities fraud, one count of forgery and a violation of the Securities Act in November.
In other business, Council will review a resolution to urge the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to strengthen regulations pertaining to removal of water from the Edisto River. The item was tabled at the last meeting held in January as Council members wanted more information about the situation that inspired the resolution.
Before the meeting, a United States Geological Survey presentation on groundwater supply will be shown at the work session beginning at 6 p.m. today at the Aiken County Council building located at 736 Richland Ave.
The meeting will follow at 7 p.m.
Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010. She is a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman's College and a native of Rustburg, Va.