Meeting scheduled tonight over Brevard County school closures

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Parents and teachers who are fighting to keep their neighborhood schools open in Brevard County will make one last stand Tuesday.

The superintendent proposed shutting down Clearlake Middle School and Gardendale, Sea Park and South Lake elementary schools after voters rejected a half-cent sales tax increase in November.

Tuesday's school board and public meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Educational Services Facility. Hundreds are expected at the meeting.

The district said it's facing a $30 million shortfall going in to the next school year. Officials said closing the schools could save about $4 million a year.

But parents have been very vocal about their opposition to the proposal and pleaded with school district leaders to find a way to save the four schools.

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

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

Some suggested having a re-vote to raise the money through taxes.

"I am willing to stand up and lead the campaign to raise the money needed by this school district to put on an additional election," said Brevard County school teacher Liz Mikitarian.

"We've got a lot of people working very hard to bring this community back so the very last thing we need is another school closure," said Titusville Mayor Jim Tulley. "It sends a message to the world out there (that) Titusville is folding up, and nothing could be further from the truth."

Titusville may seek dispute resolution over the proposed plan to shutter South Lake Elementary School.

The city has an inter-local agreement that requires review and recommendation of any proposed school closures, and soon, county commissioners could join in the dispute.