NEWS FLASH: School Board Delays Vote Until Feb. 12

By  //  January 22, 2013

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

Communities Wait On Board Decision

NEWS FLASH: School Board Delays Vote Until Feb. 12


BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – A final vote on a proposal to close four public schools and drastically slash the budget for the entire Brevard school system will be taken at tonight’s meeting of the Brevard County School Board in Viera.

The Brevard County School Board will vote on a proposal to close four schools during a meeting Tuesday night in Viera. (Image by Ed Pierce)

The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. to formally vote on a proposal made in November by Brevard Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Binggeli to close three elementary schools — Merritt Island’s Gardendale, Satellite Beach’s Sea Park and Titusville’s South Lake — and Clearlake Middle School.

Binggeli said declining enrollment and dwindling capital revenue as the reasons these particular schools need to be shuttered.

“Since the 2009-2010 school year enrollment has declined and the possibility of closing schools has existed,” Binggeli said. “We are one of 12 localities in Florida without a sales surtax. Our capital revenue has dropped 65 percent.”

Binggeli said when voters rejected a half-cent sales tax referendum during the general election in November, the schools immediately explored ways to cut costs.

Under a reduction plan formulated by the Brevard Public Schools director of facilities, Dane Theodore, four schools were chosen to close at the end of the current school year.

Theodore said he carefully studied current school capacity district-wide, current enrollments and attendance boundaries before arriving at a decision that closing Gardendale, Sea Park, South Lake and Clearlake could be accomplished with a minimum of hardship for students and parents.

He said school boundaries would be redrawn and that students could attend other nearby schools, helping to boost the capacity of those other schools making it more cost-effective for the district.

Brevard Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian T. Binggeli announced a prioritized list of proposed budget cuts in December that includes layoffs for 191 teachers. (Image courtesy Brevard Public Schools)

Under the proposal, students attending Clearlake Middle School would attend a new Cocoa Jr./Sr. High School, with additional facilities added to the existing Cocoa High ton accommodate middle school students.

If adopted, the plan for elementary students affected by the school closures would be to transfer them to existing schools and the redistricting of school boundaries. That might mean some students in Satellite Beach could spend as much as 55 minutes one way riding school buses north to Cocoa Beach.

It also means some Titusville students would be attending their third school in three years following last year’s closure of Riverview Elementary there.

Binggeli followed up his November proposal with an additional proposal to the school board in December that recommended:

• Furloughing teachers and administrators on year-round schedules for one full day without pay and furloughing teachers and staff on 10-month schedules for a half-day without pay.

• Curtailing a second planning period for middle school and high school teachers resulting in the layoff of 191 teachers.

• District-wide layoffs including 69 media assistants, 59 elementary school music teachers, 57 elementary school art teachers, 28 high school, middle school and elementary school guidance counselors, 10 on-campus monitors, six high school media specialists, five instructional assistants, five ESOL (English As A Second Language) instructional assistants, three strings teacher positions, a writing resource teacher and an education technology position.

• Stop paying for high school juniors’ ACT placement testing.

• Requiring new fees for employees undergoing background and fingerprint screenings and for parents making applications for their children to schools of choice.

• Elimination of corridor busing of students to schools of choice and no longer providing elementary school art and music education.

• Dropping all middle school sports programs.

• Drastically slashing the budgets for robotics and Lego Leagues.

• Requiring prep athletes to “Pay-To-Play.” Fees would be $100 for the first sport played and $50 for competing in a second sport. A sliding scale would be imposed for student-athletes on a free or reduced lunch.

• Consolidation of the district’s adult learning centers.

• Elimination of the district’s elementary and middle school summer remedial jumpstart programs.

• Reduce curriculum and instructional program support to schools by 7 percent.

• Elimination of all year-round schools in Brevard.

Binggeli said the goal of all the cuts and schools closures is to use the savings for capital outlay programs including purchasing a fleet of new school buses and repairing leaking school roofs while not passing those expenses off to future administrators.

Parents of students attending schools Binggeli chose for closure say the process is unfair because schools of choice were not included in any examination of closure factors.