Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Brevard School Board Votes to Close Three Schools; Eliminates Corridor Busing

VIERA, Florida - The School Board of Brevard Public Schools voted on Tuesday night to close three schools effective in the 2013-14 school year. 

The schools that will close are South Lake Elementary in Titusville, Clearlake Middle in Cocoa, and Gardendale Magnet Elementary in Merritt Island.  School board member Andy Ziegler was the swing vote to keep Sea Park Elementary in Satellite Beach open “for at least one more year.”

“We appreciate all of the input over the past months.  We have heard you, we have listened to you.  We have reviewed every possible alternative,” said Dr. Barbara Murray. “My decisions have never been politically motivated.”

The meeting was highlighted with clashes between board member Amy Kneessy and other board members and plagued by computer issues during votes. 

“I thought we had agreed to limit personal attacks,” Kneessy said.

The school closure issue had been simmering for months with parent groups and community leaders rallying behind the targeted schools.  Two parent-led political committees were formed and the Brevard County Board of County Commission and several mayors weighed in throughout the process.  None of the county commissioners responded to a Brevard Times media request regarding the school closure issue.

During public comment, Martha Franco, a retired teacher, said, “It has been wonderful to see unity – people coming together for the children of Brevard County.”  She quoted Abraham Lincoln and urged the board to make right decisions, not politically correct ones.

However, Dr. Brian Bingelli, Superintendent of BPS, stood firm in his recommendations to the school board.  BPS needs to cut $30.7 million from its budget due to the sunshine of a property tax upcoming this summer and the defeat of a sales tax referendum last November.  The school closures will save about $2.5 million.

The school board also voted unanimously to eliminate corridor busing with an estimated savings of approximately $1.2 million.  This includes busing to Choice schools, to Brevard Community College for dual enrollment students and to Choice academies. 
Ziegler made a motion to review a plan to implement fee-based corridor busing during the March 26 meeting.  Bingelli said there are legal issues regarding a fee-based system that are not currently clear. 
The board approved a $30 fee for all out-of-area and Choice School applications. This will generate around $200,000.
The remaining proposed cuts will be discussed at four public hearings and then will be considered by the board on the February 26 board meeting.  These can be found at http://documents.brevardschools.org/Updates/Budget/Budget%20Information%20201213/2013-14%20Proposed%20Budget%20Cuts%20and%20Revenue%20Enhancements%20(Public%20Release).pdf
The public hearings on these additional cuts are:

  • February 18, 2013 - Astronaut High School Auditorium
  • February 19, 2013 - Bayside High School Auditorium
  • February 21, 2013 - Hoover Middle School Media Center
  • February 25, 2013 - Viera High School Auditorium

A controversy arose prior to the meeting as BPS Director of District and School Security Andrea Alford told the crowd waiting in line that there would be no public comment allowed on the school closure issue.  She noted that the school board had closed public comment after their last public meeting.
Dr. Barbara Murray, Chair of the BPS school board, reiterated this point as the meeting was called to order. 
The crowd size at the meeting was markedly smaller than previous public hearings with vacant seats scattered around the 500-seat boardroom.   Other meetings had overflow seating in use.


  1. While our PART time school board members are given health-care benefits our children will now have to find a ride to school. How about cutting where it doesn't affect our children like all the DOUBLE-DIPPING administrators that have been working for 40 years and will retire with a pension that a 20 year teacher doesn't make working full time!!!!!!

    1. Why should taxpayers foot the bill for your child to go to a school of choice or dual enroll in BCC? You WANT it YOU PAY FOR IT!

  2. PLEASE Brevard, remember this the next time we get to vote!!! They don't care about our kids!!

  3. If they are still looking at SeaPark for next year, then they really need to find a way to consolidate with Holland so that the kids can at least stay in their own neighborhood and not be bussed far away.

  4. I agree on consolidating with Holland. It don't think it is necessarily the closing of SeaPark, but the way in which half the students were proposed to bus to Cocoa Beach and the use of the property for an Adult education center that were the huge pain points.

  5. Sea park needs to be closed. There's another school right down the road. Not to mention these selfish people don't want any adult education at their precious school. Why not? it's a SCHOOL. Enjoy your reprieve, that school is GONE next year. To everyone in SB with their yard signs, why don't you donate 2 grand each to keep your school open of it's so important to you?

    1. Because they think their children's education should be footed by others...

  6. This is one of the few decisions I actually agree with! If a school is so under populated that it is no longer cost effective to keep it open……Then close it. As far as the bussing is concerned, I was wondering whose bright idea it was to bus kids out of area at the tax payer’s expense to begin with. If you would like your child to go to an out of area school then you should be responsible for paying for transportation.

  7. Why is adult education funded by tax payers? Their 'free' chance ended when they made their decisions. This should be part of BCC and paid by the 'adult'.

  8. Its corridor busing which means that parents drive to a central location and then a bus meets them there. This was offered as part of the school of choice programs and if they can't afford them, then an alternative should be offered because they are still public schools. The schools that are closing needed a program (such as the choice programs)that would draw folks to the school. Sea park used to have a 'gifted' class and a bunch of parents drove and picked up their kids everyday because the program was so awesome. And then they stopped it. Supply and demand folks. Gotta give the parents of Brevard what they are looking for which is more.