VSDB Closure Could Hurt Staunton Economy

Tuesday afternoon, it was quiet on the campus of the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. Students would return that night, but there is the possibility that one day soon, they won't be able to return.

According to VSDB Superintendent Nancy Armstrong, changes will come. She says, "You know, some things need to be changed, according to the way we do things."

Such changes could radically alter the way of life for the children who walk these paths, and learn in these classrooms. Armstrong sits on the task forces deciding what to do about both VSDB and its sister school in Hampton. She says things will surely not stay the way they are. "I believe that the governor wants us to make a decision. I think he wants us to come forth with a sound recommendation," she says.

The task force recently presented three options for consideration: Closing one school, closing both and building a new one, or keeping both open with revisions. If the Staunton school were to be closed, the whole city would be impacted.

Walk out the front doors of VSDB's main hall and you need only look straight ahead. It's there that you'll see a stark reminder of what can happen when the state intervenes. The former Staunton Correctional looms in the distance. When it closed in December, nearly 300 people lost their jobs. And the city lost revenues.

Armstrong says the same would be true if VSDB closed, noting, "We are a revenue generating business." Staff and students greatly contribute to the local economy. "Our children are always in town, buying things, at restaurants. We provide job coaches to the community. We're a part of the school community," notes Armstrong.

The task force will present its final decision to the governor December 1.

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