MERRITT ISLAND, Florida - A group of Merritt Island parents are distributing a petition to try and convince Brevard Public Schools to hold a second referendum vote in 2013 to offset potential school closures and budget cuts.
Parent Tina Burton said that a second ballot would cost $760,000.
“We are appealing to the school board to use some of the $19 million in contingency funds and we are trying to fund-raise,” Burton said. “We are also joining forces with the Brevard Federation of Teachers.”
Burton believes that a second vote would have different results since voters now know exactly what cuts Dr. Brian Binggeli, Superintendent of BPS, has recommended to the school board.
“We think it would have turned out differently if people had known exactly what would be done,” Burton said. “These cuts will make our schools unstable and disintegrating. Businesses will stop coming to Brevard. It’s all inter-related and people need to understand this.”
Currently the petition, which can be found at www.savebps.webs.com, proposes the levy of a 0.5 cent sales tax, however, Burton said they had considered changing it.
“Our original intent was to offer a continuation of the current 0.25 millage rate plus a 0.25 cent sales tax,” she said. “However, BFT has told us that it would be better just to do the half-cent sales tax again.”
Burton said her group is using a variety of methods to get the word out.
“We have the website and we’re using Facebook. I am also handing out flyers to complete strangers, which is way out of my comfort zone,” Burton said. “But it’s worth it. I am concerned for our childrens’ futures.”
The website says the following:
Suggested language - Shall the Brevard County School Board levy a one-half cent sales surtax beginning January 1, 2014, for a period of ten (10) years unless property tax assessments return to the 2008-09 level, to fund the implementation, upgrading, retrofitting and equipping of all schools with technology; and to finance educational facilities, construction, reconstruction, remodeling and renovations, land acquisition and improvement for the Brevard County School District? with oversight of these expenditures by an independent citizens financial oversight committee?
Combined these taxes would generate ~ 24 million in revenues to enable our existing schools to be maintained at today's excellent standard. While the added funds would not fill the entirety of the budget deficit estimated by district staff, we feel certain that if the board works with the community and local leaders who have offered support, budget-reduction measures can be identified that would not require schools closures, crowded classrooms, or deep program cuts.
We firmly believe that the failure of the half-cent sales surtax was not a mandate to close schools and slash programs. We respectfully request the opportunity to vote for our community, our schools and our children.
School Board Members - Vote for a 2013 Special Election and, together, we can save our schools!