More cuts proposed for Brevard County schools



BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Parents in Brevard County found out schools may face even steeper cuts than originally thought.

The district is already looking at closing four schools to deal with a $30 million budget shortfall.

On Wednesday, Channel 9's Melonie Holt found the proposed cuts could involve increasing class sizes and cutting staff, as well as possibly charging parents whose children play sports.

The superintendent unveiled his plan to bring the district back from the brink, but the proposed cuts and revenue enhancements are already raising concerns.

"I think it's really unfortunate," said Misty Belford, president of the Oak Park parent-teacher organization. "We are where we are, and I don't think any of those cuts are good for our kids."

The cuts include paying to play athletics, with a break for students on free and reduced-price lunch. There's also the potential of hundreds of staff cuts among instructional assistants, campus monitors, media assistants and teachers.

And then there's the closure of Clearlake Middle and Gardendale, Sea Park and South Lake elementary schools.

"The kids are going to have a lesser education, that's clear," said Richard Smith of the Brevard Federation of Teachers.

The problem started in Tallahassee, where the cuts have been going on for years.

Brevard Public Schools looked to a half-cent sales tax referendum for relief, but it failed. However, a grassroots effort is forming to bring the idea back before voters.

"I would love to see the district re-present the sales tax in a special election in the spring," said Belford.

That would cost $750,000, but Belford and other parents believe voters didn't realize how much was at stake when they rejected the half-cent sales tax.

"I think if we have to cut things, we should cut things we can put back into place as opposed to closing schools," said Belford.

The superintendent has talked about bringing the sales tax back to voters in 2014, but no special referendum. There will be a workshop on the plan on Friday.

The next public forum on the school closures has been scheduled for Jan. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Educational Services Center in Viera.