Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Superintendent Faces Opposition Over School Closures

VIERA, Florida - The Superintendent of Brevard Public Schools presented a passionate defense of his recommendation to close four schools for the 2013-14 school year at a board meeting on Tuesday night.  A crowd of over 500 people attended the meeting.
Dr. Brian Binggeli said that the district has no choice but to take drastic measures to maintain operational facilities since the sales tax referendum was defeated in November’s election.  “We don’t buy magic chillers and magic school busses and we don’t put on magic roofs.
“In fact, the school closures do not nearly get us where we need to go,” he added.  “There is a potential for further cuts.”
The schools targeted for closure are South Lake Elementary in Titusville, Sea Park Elementary in Satellite Beach, Gardendale Elementary in Merritt Island, and Clearlake Middle in Cocoa.
The school board website added that “it is anticipated that these schools will be re-purposed to accommodate Adult Education and Alternative Learning programs currently in leased facilities, and other programs and/or support functions.”
Each school was well-represented with coordinated efforts that included matching t-shirts and signs. Citizens had an opportunity to speak to the board about the proposed closures, with each school getting equal time to make their cases. 
Newly-elected Board Chair Dr. Barbara Murray said, “I appreciate the speakers’ polite comments and respect for the board.  We received a great deal of information tonight and expect more at our scheduled community forums.”
These meetings will be held as follows: November 26 at Satellite High School, November 27 at Astronaut High School, December 3 at Merritt Island High School, and December 4 at Clearlake Middle School.  All meetings will be held from 6:30-8:00 pm.
For more information about these meetings and other relates information, go to http://www.brevardschools.org/fp-includes/communityforum/ProposedSchlClosings.html
Dane Theodore outlined Binggeli’s plan and said that the main criteria for targeting a school for closure is if it is “a small school, a central school, and it doesn’t have a large capacity.”
South Lake is currently at 88% utilization, however four nearby schools are below 80%.  If the proposal is accepted, these schools - Apollo, Mims, Oak Park, and Pinewood - will all increase their populations to over 85%.  Coquina and Imperial Estates will also add students.
Misty Belford, a parent at nearby Oak Park Elementary, said that the closing of Riverview Elementary last year should exempt South Lake from the list. “My numbers says that 250 students who moved from Riverview will be moved again.  We shouldn’t be faced with the prospect of another Title I school closure.”
In Satellite Beach, Sea Park is currently at 90% utilization with three neighboring schools at below 70%.  If the proposal is accepted, Roosevelt, Holland, and Cape View will all reach over 85% occupancy.
A speaker for Sea Park said that previous data used last time the school was considered for closure was not accurate.  “We thought the plan to close Sea Park had been tabled.”
Gardendale in Merritt Island is currently at only 72% utilization - with three other Island schools below 75%.  A closure at Gardendale will increase enrollment at MILA from 67% to 78%, Audubon from 64% to 79%, and Tropical from 71% to 75%.  Lewis Carroll’s effects will be only an addition of 62 students.
Ingrid Combs, a former teacher at Gardendale and a former Brevard County Teacher of the Year, defended the school, “We are the only four-themed magnet school in the nation.  We are unique, successful.  We are open and alive.”
Clearlake Middle currently has a utilization percentage of 67% with Jefferson at 73% and Space Coast at 74%.  If the proposal is accepted, Jefferson will rise to 90% and Space Coast Middle to 118%.  However, since Space Coast is on the same campus as a high school, its total permanent utilization is at 139%.
Student President Samantha Cavallaro of Cocoa said many were devastated when they heard the news at Cocoa’s only middle school.  “I could see the anger and heartbreak on peoples’ faces.  Why throw everything away after all the progress we’ve made.”
During his presentation, Binggeli noted that the district has already become more efficient.  He cited statistics such as a drop of 24% of energy consumption, a reduction in tangible property insurance costs, and lower health care costs as evidence.
Binggeli also cited staffing numbers that show BPS has reduced costs there too.  “Our district administrators’ salaries are 0.41% of full-time staff and the state average is 0.94%...and we pay less.”
The Board’s Vice Chair Amy Kneessy said of the evening’s discussions, “I thought it went as well as could be expected.  This is the hardest process I have been through as a board member.  It is gut-wrenching.”
The issue will be on the board’s agenda on December 11 as an action item and then again on January 22, 2013 as a public hearing.


  1. I know it is all different pots for the money but we can spend $8.5 million for some company from Michigan called Blueware come to our county and charge us an outrageous price for services that cost $2 million and yet we do not have the money to keep our schools open.

    Someone needs to investigate why this is happening. Blueware gets ahead and my child falls behind.

    Stop it now!

  2. Why do others have to pay to educate your child(ren), they are your responsibility to educate. Your child falls behind and it's YOUR FAULT.

  3. The majority of voters that live in Brevard are over 50 and had no A/C when we went to school. Why not cut the A/C? The fat little jelly beans could use a few pounds lost to sweating anyhow. Cure childhood obesity and make the budget!

    Oh wait. The school board had a better idea. Tax the seniors more so we have to cut our air and heat to stretch our budget so they can keep their union employees' paychecks and pensions fat.

    Fat kids, fat paychecks, fat administration, and cold seniors will never fly in Brevard.

    1. why does it matter? you are all going to DIE soon anyways. Mr. Bitter old man.

    2. I never understood, never will understand this meat headed assault on teachers from pin-headed old cranks. Teachers are highly educated, most continuing college throughout their carriers at great expense, while making lower salaries to teach America's future. Why do you want them to suffer in retirement? Maybe because you are greedy, maybe just old bitter and jealous because life has passed you by. It was a half of a penny for crissakes, and thanks to your greed, people will lose their jobs.

      It is proven that lower class sizes increase academic performance, yet our super is increasing class sizes now because of the likes of you. You are directly contributing to the demise of America you ignorant fools. I agree with the other poster, the sooner you coots die off the better off we will all be. Maybe we can turn off the air in your retirement villages, or reduce your health benefits, after all I pay for them right?

  4. And why are they still not choosing to charge the students that attend Choice/Magnet schools for bus transportation? My daughter is one of these such students and there are less than 10 kids on her bus...a bus that travels more than 6 miles to pick my child up. I am more than willing to pay for this service, yet the School Board is still not taking advantage of this money.

  5. Why are we paying over $600,00 for out of county and out of country travel for the school board? REALLY!!!! There are items that can be trimmed in the budget that do not directly effect the classroom.

  6. A community raises children, not just teachers, coaches and family. Remember these children (hopefully) grow up and do great things like being public servants, Health Care Professionals, Teachers, Social Security administrators, Case Workers, Fire Fighters and Rest Home caregivers just to name a noteworthy few. For the negative few, I hope you don't need their help during your lifetime, they just might not be there. This is the generation that will take care of you later in life whether you like it or not. Perhaps they will remember this and vote out your entitlements. A half penny is going to break your bank? Just don't buy that extra large big mac once a week.

  7. Why should I have to pay social security or Medicare taxes? I will never get to see either program. Because I care about you, that's why. It's also why I became a nurse. You're welcome.