Lake Co. could close school, cut teachers

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9 learned Tuesday the Lake County schools superintendent wants to consider closing an elementary school that serves special needs students.

Dr. Susan Moxley said the district is looking at a $16 million budget shortfall, and she is suggesting Rimes Early Learning Center, which serves 250 students, be shut down.

The school is on a long list of possible district-wide cuts, including the elimination of 60 teaching positions. 

But closing Rimes would likely have stiff opposition.

It's Staff Appreciation Week at Rimes, which is full of educators who parent Monique Clark has gotten to know well.

“Love them.  Polite.  Everyone knows everyone,” she said.

Now, Clark wonders if some of them will lose their jobs.

At a district meeting on Tuesday, Channel 9’s Berndt Petersen found no final decisions have been made just yet.

“I made it very clear today that we are not closing Rimes at this time.  We are looking at everything,” said school board member Rosanne Brandeburg.

“Sixteen-million is enormous in any system where they cut every year, the budget.  Now we're down to where the rubber meets the road,” said board member Bill Mathias.

Rimes has been a special case for years because it serves kindergarten through second grade, along with classes for students with special needs. 

Closing it, however, would save the district half a million dollars a year.