Brevard school-closure debate heats up



BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Brevard County's superintendent and staff stepped into the middle of a heated controversy Thursday over a proposal to close several schools.

The controversy over school closures brought the Brevard County Public School's superintendent, school board member Andy Ziegler and a host of mayors, commissioners and county and city managers to the same table on Thursday.

The group met for close to three hours to explain why four schools are still on a list of potential cuts, but Channel 9's Melonie Holt learned those schools were still on the chopping block when the meeting ended.

During the meeting, city and county leaders made a number of passionate arguments about the importance of schools to their communities and even economic development.

The closure of Clearlake Middle and South Lake, Sea Park and Gardendale Elementary schools are part of a list of proposed cuts to help the school district head off a projected $30 million budget shortfall next year.

But, local leaders said the closures won't solve the school district's long-term capital needs, but a recently defeated half-cent sales tax would.

There's already an effort to bring the issue back to voters, but the school board will make its decision on the closures Feb. 12.

A capital outlay committee didn't recommend Wednesday to close or save schools. That committee did suggest more time to study school closures, but Superintendent Brian Binggeli said time is running out.

"At this point, the recommendation is before our school board, so thank you," he said.

Ziegler said whatever decision the board makes, someone will be unhappy, because if schools aren't cut, something else will be.