Groups continue effort to save Brevard County schools from closing



BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Parents and teachers are banding together again in hopes that three Brevard County schools that are set to be closed can be saved.

In February, school board leaders decided to close Clearlake Middle, Gardendale and South Lake elementary schools to save money.

Now, parents and teachers are more optimistic the schools can be saved, because the district is getting more money from the state than anticipated.

The Brevard Federation of Teachers and Save Brevard Public Schools is rallying in Titusville Monday, saying it's not too late to revisit the issue. But the district claims the money earmarked for the district comes with strings attached.

Specifically, the support groups want a moratorium on the closing of the three schools, and more recently, the North Area Alternative Learning Center in Titusville.

School supporters point to higher than expected property value estimates, refinanced school debt and more state revenue as reasons to halt the closures.

"Once you disconnect a community from its school, you've done something that I don't know that you can very easily fix later," said Richard Smith of the Brevard Federation of Teachers.

"Which goes back to the question, of where does the school board stand with minority and low-income students, because it seems like they're always the low hanging fruit," said the Rev. Glenn Dames of the St. James Ame Church.

The school district estimates it has about $22 million in added revenue, but that includes a number of dedicated expenses like teacher salary increase, instructional materials and retirement increases and funding for dual enrollment, essentially absorbing all of the funds.

But parents and teachers are convinced there will be added revenue, and they will be attending Tuesday night's school board meeting to say so.