Avalon School drops move to Clarksburg -- Gazette.Net


The Avalon School no longer will move forward with plans to build a new campus on a 10-acre site in Clarksburg due to financial woes.

“We don’t plan to build up there now,” school President Richard McPherson said. “It’s not going to happen in Clarksburg.”

School officials tried to sell the property several years ago, realizing the school could not repay a bank loan, resulting in a foreclosure auction in March.

Eagle Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings in May 2011, and the properties were sold at auction for $1,222,000 on March 23, 2012, according to the deed and court foreclosure records.

The new owner is a limited liability company called 3 Sons Avalon LLC, which McPherson and Kostecka says has no connection to the school.

McPherson helped found the independent, K-12 private boys Catholic school in 2003 as part of the Avalon Education Group, which also includes the Brookewood School for girls in Kensington, run by his brother, Joseph McPherson.

The Avalon School currently leases classroom space in the First Baptist Church on West Diamond Avenue in Gaithersburg.

“Right now we’re happy where we are, and there are no plans (to move) in the immediate future,” McPherson said.

However, as the school grows, it continues to keep an eye out for future sites, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of people visiting the school for next year, and we’re going to have the biggest graduating class that we’ve ever had,” he said.

“First Baptist is very good to us, and we have a pretty good location right off (Route) 270,” he said.

In April 2006, the group borrowed $2,210,000 from Eagle Bank, based in Bethesda, and bought 10 acres for $2.6 million at 22821 and 22901 Frederick Road (Route 355) north of Clarksburg High School.

In 2007 the school was a granted a special exception to build the school, but by then the recession hit and began to take its toll, according to school officials.

Enrollment dropped from a high of more than 200 students down to 152, as parents who couldn’t afford tuition shifted to public schools, McPherson said.

Plans to issue a bond for construction also fell through, making it ultimately impossible for the school to repay the loan, he said.

Robert Kostecka, a member of the school’s board of trustees, said the school put the site on the market but did not receive an acceptable offer because of plummeting land prices.

Parents have known for some time that the school was not in a position to move, he said.

It was a long-range plan that would have unfolded after many current students had left, Kostecka said.

He said a move to Clarksburg also would have meant losing some students and gaining others because of the shift in location.