School leaders discuss proposed Brevard school closures

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Brevard County school leaders discuss the future of four schools on Tuesday.

The superintendent has recommended closing Seapark, Gardendale and South Lake elementary schools, along with Clearlake Middle, after voters rejected a half-cent sales tax increase.

The district said it needs more than $20 million to repair or replace things like leaky roofs, failing air conditioning units and aging buses.

Crystal Bair, a single mother, has a kindergartner and a first-grader who attend South Lake Elementary School.

She also works at the school in an after-school program that helps struggling students.

"If our school gets shut down I'm without a job and our students get replaced to another school not knowing if they're going to get that help," said Bair.

The closures come after another school was recently shut down to save money.

When Riverside elementary was closed last year, about 100 students were moved to South Lake Elementary. But if South Lake closes, those students will again be on the move -- their third new school in three years.

"They're just getting bounced from place to place to place and it’s harmful to them," said parent Ashley Cabral.

Cabral also works at South Lake and has two kids there.

She said the school district didn't do a good enough job, in the run up to the vote, explaining that schools would close if the half-cent proposal failed.

District officials disagree. "We put out there very clearly our quick facts we them in every school building. We put on there school closures as a possible cut," said Brevard County School District spokeswoman Michelle Irwin.

At Tuesday meeting, school district officials worked to explain why the four schools were singled out for closing.

A district staff member said closing the schools will save about $4 million and pay for a fraction of what the district says it needs.

A district representative said it would cost $800,000 to put the question back on the ballot, and the school system can't afford that.