Decision to Close the Virginia School of the Arts: 'Gut Wrenching'

    Reporter: Lauren Compton l Videographer: Todd Densmore

    Lynchburg, VA - The Virginia School of the Arts has been a fixture in Lynchburg for 26 years. The school is closing in May leaving many students and faculty wondering what they'll do next.

    Enrollment has been declining for the past five years, but faculty members say all the elements were coming into place for a re-emergence of the school.

    "Our students are devastated! They are completely devastated," said Leslie Kozera, Director of Operations at VSA.

    Kozera says without the school many students won't have a place to pursue their passion.

    "I have parents who tell me their students are not going to dance anymore if they can't dance here. It breaks my heart," said Kozera.

    Board President Turner Perrow says deciding to close the school was one of the hardest decisions he's had to make.

    "To break the news to the staff that we're not going to be able to continue was gut wrenching," said Perrow.

    The economy has hit the school two-fold, causing a decrease in donations and enrollment. Perrow says the board considered a number of options to keep the school open.

    "We had a plan expand the program to bring in more students. We even considered merging with other art institutions," said Perrow.

    Administrators say with a new dance faculty in place and auditions coming up, there was time to turn things around for the school. Kozera says they just wanted a chance to boost enrollment to the 35 students needed to sustain the school. But, this might not be the last dance for this school.

    "If there's any way that we can save the Virginia School of the Arts we are certainly willing to listen and look into that," said Perrow.

    The board will have no shortage of voices who are ready to fight for their school.

    "The students want to have a dance or a bake sale. They want to know what they can do," said Kozera .

    The board will help returning students transition to other programs.

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