Will schedule upcoming forums to hear community input
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD -- On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the Brevard School Board will decide the fate of the county's public school system.
Following a public hearing, the school board will consider closing four schools, as Brevard Public Schools faces a $30-million shortfall in its budget for 2013 to 2014. Schools that may close include Clearlake Middle, Gardendale Elementary, Sea Park Elementary and South Lake Elementary, which could also result in the loss of more than 200 jobs.
If approved, any closings and resulting attendance boundary changes will be in effect in August 2013.
The consideration to make cuts came after voters turned down a half-cent sales tax that would have raised $32 million annually for the Brevard Public Schools' budget. According to a report released by Brevard Public Schools, the average cost of the half-cent sales tax, to an average household with an income of $50,000 annually spending 10 percent on taxable items, would have been $25 annually.
"School Board members have said they are committed to maintaining their buildings, investing in technology to meet state mandates and meeting safety standards by purchasing new school buses," the release stated. "Their solution was a half-cent sales tax... Voters turned the tax down, and elected officials are taking it as direction from the community to make cuts. That includes considering closing schools in order to divert money to capital budget costs."
At a forum on Jan. 10, parents signed a petition that asked the school board to approve a special election in November, which would put a quarter-cent sales tax on the table, as well as a renewal of a quarter-mil property tax set to expire later this year. A group called Save Brevard Public Schools, which has racked up 193 "likes" on Facebook, pleads for the school board to come up with alternate solutions to finding funds.
"School closings will result in overcrowding in schools nearby," the website states. "Class size amendment may not be followed, resulting in larger classrooms as well. We will lose teachers to other counties or states. With an unstable school system, our property values will fall even lower. One of the draws of our county is our excellent top 10 school district. Businesses may not want to open in Brevard with lower property values and a lower performing school district ... This will all result in a downgrading of our standard of living. Isn't this cost too much?"
If all four schools close, an additional 19 schools will be impacted, as students from the shuttered schools may move to those schools, and students may move to a third school to make room for students from the shuttered school.
"For example, about 100 Roosevelt Elementary students might attend Cape View Elementary to make room for Sea Park (Elementary) students," the Brevard Public Schools press release stated.
Gardendale's closure could potentially impact Audubon Elementary School, Mila Elementary School and Tropical Elementary School.
Sea Park's closure could potentially impact Cape View Elementary School, Holland Elementary School, Gemini Elementary School, Indialantic Elementary School, Ocean Breeze Elementary School, Roosevelt Elementary School, Suntree Elementary School and Surfside Elementary School.
South Lake's closure could potentially affect Apollo Elementary School, Coquina Elementary School, Mims Elementary School, Oak Park Elementary School and Pinewood Elementary School.
Clearlake's closure could potentially impact McNair Middle School, Cocoa High School and Rockledge High School.
For more information, visit www.brevard.k12.fl.us.