New proposal to save Brevard schools

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A Port Canaveral commissioner proposed giving the district the millions of dollars it needed to keep three schools open.

"It's the right thing for us to do. The port’s mission statement is to provide a public benefit to the residents of the port district," said commissioner Bruce Deardoff.

He said he thought the biggest benefit the Canaveral Port Authority board could provide to district residents was $5 million to prevent the school closures.

"I'm going to ask them to pay $2.5 million a year for the next two years to keep these three schools open," Deardoff said.

Deardoff said a lot could change in two years, like property values.

Brevard County taxpayers might also have the opportunity to revisit a half-cent sales tax to support schools.

Deardoff said the board had access to unrestricted funds, which would allow it to head off the closures of Clearlake Middle and South Lake and Gardendale Elementary schools.

"We've been through so many emotional ups and downs. I'm hopeful, but very cautious," said Christine McClure of the Brevard Parents Action Committee.

McClure said, "I will really have to wait and see what Wednesday brings with the meeting and also with their conversation with the school board."

WFTV reporter Melonie Holt spoke with school board member Andy Ziegler Friday about the proposal.

Ziegler said, "First of all, the port’s got to figure out what they can and what they will do."

But he was receptive to a port donation.

"I can't speak for the board, but from my perspective, I've always said if someone gave us alternative revenue for anything that we have to cut, that would be fine with me," said Ziegler.

Ziegler did question how the funds could be applied.

The superintendent said the district would review any recommendation after the entire port authority decides how to proceed.