School asks city's help for building; Bonds may be issued for Montessori site


After 25 years in leased space, the Montessori School of Westminster plans a $1.2 million building of its own with industrial revenue bonds issued by the city.

"We have been wanting our own location for years," said Stephanie Brewster, the school's business administrator.

The private school has purchased a 27-acre site on Hughes Shop Road near Route 140, and has an architect's design for a one-story, 12,000-square-foot building. The plan is working its way through the county's development review process.

The school has raised about $200,000 of the estimated cost and plans to borrow the rest through industrial revenue bonds. Representatives of Montessori, the county's only nonreligious private school, discussed financing yesterday with county commissioners.

The school will borrow $1 million for the land and building. The city of Westminster will issue the bonds, which Westminster Bank and Trust Co. has agreed to buy. The city has scheduled a public hearing Monday on the bond issue.

"We have a commitment letter from the bank to buy all the bonds," said Clark Shaffer, attorney for the school.

The county's consent is necessary to the process because the site is outside city limits.

"We emphasize that there is no obligation on the part of the city or the county," said Shaffer. "The city is the appropriate governmental entity to issue the bonds, but we are asking for the county's consent."

The school, with a faculty of 25, teaches about 125 children, from 3 years old through seventh grade, at two locations. An eighth grade is planned for next year. Nearly all the pupils live in the Westminster area.

The younger children, who make up the largest enrollment, are at St. Benjamin's Lutheran Church, and the others attend classes at Stone Chapel.

"The Lutherans have decided to open their own school, so we no longer have a lease at St. Benjamin's," said Shaffer.

The new building is "residential in character" with a "bare-bones" floor plan including classrooms, a library and a few faculty rooms, Shaffer said. The property will not have a cafeteria, gymnasium or athletic fields.

School representatives have met recently with neighbors, hoping to address their concerns with traffic, noise and utilities.

"There was good give and take," said Jeff Sprinkle, of Hughes Shop Road. "This school is a great endeavor, but residents are concerned with additional traffic and the impact on our water levels."

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