Brevard County school closure vote delayed

Refinancing debt to be discussed as budget crisis solution

By Sheli Muniz - Reporter

VIERA, Fla. - The school board has delayed the vote on Brevard County school closures at a public meeting Tuesday night.

A motion was presented to delay the vote until Feb. 12 to see how much money refinancing the school board's debt brings in.

The school district is facing more than $30 million in cuts, but officials may have a way to deal with the budget crunch after voters rejected a half-cent sales tax. District leaders are talking about refinancing some of its debt and we're talking around $500 million. It could be a last ditch effort to save schools that are on the chopping block.

The fate of four Brevard County schools- Gardendale, Sea Park and South Lake elementary schools and Clearlake Middle School- hang in the balance.

Now, district leaders are looking at refinancing plans as a desperate final attempt. One option could translate into saving about $380,000 a year through 2030. An alternative would mean saving $4.6 million over the next three years.

School leaders will discuss the refinancing plans in Tuesday's meeting, a meeting that is expected to get heated and emotional with far-reaching effects.

One representative from each of the 4 schools will be allowed to present.  After that, up to 10 speakers from each school will be allowed to speak for up to 2 minutes, provided their concerns were not covered in the extended presentations.

Brevard County Schools spokesperson Michelle Irwin says she doesn't expect the board to vote on Tuesday on the other proposed cuts, including letting go of up to 400 staff members including teachers, taking away art and music from elementary schools, charging students for sports, or eliminating buses for choice schools.

Parents from Clearlake Middle School say the idea of Cocoa High hosting middle-schoolers and high-schoolers is scary.

"For a young teen, it's hard when they're trying to find themselves, particularly in middle school, and them being shuffled around, and then the  thought of them having 12-year-olds with 18 and 19-years-olds in one school environment, that's scary," said parent Heidi Traver.

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