Winter Springs parents unite to fight school closure

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WINTER SPRINGS, Fla.,None - Parents and community members will meet in Winter Springs on Thursday night to talk about plans to save another elementary school from closing.

Keeth Elementary is high on the district's list of possible closures, but Eyewitness News learned that a new state bill could put a stop to all school shutdowns.

Some mothers with the PTA at Keeth Elementary are getting the word out about Thursday night’s parent meeting, where school board members will face tough questions about the unpopular idea of school closures.

“There has to be a better way of managing the budget besides closing down schools,” said Christine Johnson, Keeth Elementary PTA.

However, a bill just passed in the state House calls for just that.  It says any district that tried and failed to raise a half-cent sales tax is prohibited from closing schools, cutting teacher pay or eliminating some extracurricular programs.

Rep. Jason Brodeur of Sanford added that language, and it is aimed directly at Seminole County.

In 2010, local voters said no to a half-cent tax to fund schools but critics say the new bill takes away too much local control.  They say budget decisions should be left up to the local school board.

Even parents think the bill is overreaching.

“We want someone local to know what's going on with our town, to know what's going on with our kids, to know what's going on with our schools (and) to run it,” said Tiffany Deberry, Keeth Elementary PTA.

The bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate.  Lawmakers there call it hypocritical to cut school funding yet punish schools for making cuts.

The mothers in the PTA at this school are preparing for battle as well.

“We have a real small community here and we love our school.  So, you start messing with the school, you're messing with a lot of people,” said Johnson.

The House bill also calls for salary cuts of administrators who make more than $100,000 annually.