VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A private school that’s been in Virginia Beach for decades is now closing, according to several parents and a post made on social media.
On Tuesday, the sign outside Baylake Pines School on Shore Drive said registration for next school year was “In Progress,” and Tuesday the most recent Facebook post to the school’s page said, “We will see you in the fall.” But parents of Baylake Pines students said they received phone calls on Tuesday saying the school will not be open for the 2014-2015 school year.
After WAVY News’ Liz Palka reported on the closure, the school posted a message on its Facebook page.
Palka also spoke to the school’s director and owner, Joan Eckert, who said she’s been with the school for 38 years and is devastated to be closing.
“You can’t have a school without students,” she told Palka. And she said low enrollment has had a big impact on keeping the school open. Eckert also said she couldn’t comment any more, but she would be willing to sit down with WAVY.com later.
The news came as a shock to parents, who said they also had recent meetings with the school, during which it was said the school would be open for the upcoming year.
Beyond the shock, it’s a disappointment to those who shared how much they love the K through 8 school. The small, close-knit school sports the motto: “We are more than a school. We are family.” But many told WAVY.com they are upset with the way the closure is being handled.
Not only were parents not expecting to hear the news that their children wouldn’t be able to attend Baylake Pines in the fall, it’s also late in the process if they want to enroll their students in another private school.
One parent said tuition will be reimbursed by next week.
Teachers and faculty are also scrambling to figure out what to do. One woman told Palka she has worked at Baylake Pines School for 26 years. She said, she doesn’t know what she’ll do in the fall, as most schools in the area have already made hires before June. Teachers were also seen packing belongings to put into storage on Wednesday afternoon.
Residents of the neighborhood around Baylake Pines School said they were aware the school was having problems. Baylake Pines Civic League President John Borum said one of the school’s owners and a developer came to their June 2 meeting. Borum said the owner was already in talks to sell the school’s soccer field to a developer with a plan of building 16 single-family homes on the property. During the meeting, the owner told the civic league said they were selling the field to help the school.
Residents aren’t happy because they’re worried about their property values, saying the single family homes could back up to a lake that’s next to the school.
WAVY.com checked in with the City of Virginia Beach. The treasurer’s office said the property is still owned by the Eckerts. The Virginia Beach Planning Commission said it’s been zoned residential since the 1970s. The owners have had a conditional use permit for the school since 1983. Any changes haven’t reached the administrative level of the planning commission, yet.