Parents worry about Brevard school budget vote

COCOA, Fla. - With just two days left before a controversial vote that could end with four Brevard County Schools closed, parents worry budget-cutting measures will hurt their child's education.

The school district is facing a $30.7 million budget shortfall and its solution is a package of cuts to include school closures, programming reductions and as many as 400 eliminated staff positions. District leaders have identified Clearlake Middle School, South Lake, Gardendale and Sea Park elementary schools as the buildings that would close to promote cost savings.

School board members could vote on the closures as soon as Tuesday night, when they'll take public comment and review the proposals.

Some parents worry sending their children further away to another school will detract from their education.

"[My daughter] should be going to Clearlake in a year and a half but if they close down she can't," said Amy Bell.

The district's financial troubles are compounded by November's vote to strike down a proposed sales tax increase with the revenue earmarked for schools. District leaders said that tax hike would have covered the budget shortfall forcing the county's drastic cost-cutting measures.

"Why would people vote something like that down? People always say think about the children," said parent Rick Kohler.

Several parents marched at the school district last week, urging leaders to pay for a special election to put the question of a sales tax hike before voters again, but it may to be too late.

Tuesday's school board meeting where the closures will be discussed begins at 5:30 p.m. at school district headquarters in Viera. Public input is allowed, but speakers on the closings must sign up and there is limited space.

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