Parents learn more about proposed school closings in Brevard County



BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - About 150 parents and their children showed up Tuesday at a community meeting about the Brevard School District's plans to close four schools.

The superintendent proposed shutting down the schools after voters rejected a sales-tax increase last month.

"I think there's other things we can cut. I'm not about cutting my child's education.  That's number one," one parent said at the meeting.

But parents who spoke with WFTV earlier in the day said they don't care what criteria were used, they don't think any of the community schools should be on the chopping block.

Clearlake is Cocoa's only middle school, and Brevard County school officials estimate closing it could save the district $1.2 million a year.

"They're putting a price tag on these kids' education," said grandparent Tim Durant. "I didn't think we were supposed to do that. We're supposed to provide for our children to the best of our ability."

Taxpayers rejected a half-cent rise in the sales tax to help repair schools. Now the Brevard School District is trying to fill an anticipated $30 million gap in the capital budget for the 2012-2013 school year.

And with the sun setting on a quarter-mil property tax for capital improvements, the district told WFTV tough choices must be made.

"It's emotional. People are very attached to their schools, and we want them to be. However, we are facing a pretty significant shortfall in our capital budget," said Michelle Irwin, spokeswoman for Brevard Public Schools.

"Our mission, even the school board's mission, is every child be served, and to me, closing a school isn't being served," said Sharrell Sellers, Clearlake PTO president.

In addition to considering the closure of Clearlake Middle School, the school board will consider closing Gardendale, Sea Park and South Lake elementary schools.

Each of the closures could save the district an additional $800,000. But even if the board approves the closures, the district will seek more cost savings.

"We're also looking at other program cuts that will be coming down the road," said Irwin.

The school board is expected to make a decision on the closures in January, so new school boundaries can be put in place.