(Titusville, FL – November 15, 2012) – Facing a School Board recommendation to cut the second Title One School in Titusville in as many years, parents, educators and community leaders are pleading with Brevard County School Board Superintendent to look somewhere other than a school that boasts high Academic Achievement despite a population where over 80% of students are on free or reduced lunch.
"Many of these students were moved to South Lake Elementary School when nearby Riverview Elementary School (another Title One School) was closed last year. For those students, it would mean their third school in as many years. For many of these children living at or below the poverty level, school is the only stability, the only constant, in their lives and we feel it is irresponsible for the School Board to target these kids for a second consecutive year" said Save South Lake organizer and parent Michael Nunez. "Despite these challenges, and being a group that society often writes off, these students have excelled in their education. In fact, among all schools in the State of Florida with a population of 80% or more on free or reduced lunch, South Lake ranks 4th in the state on Academic performance standards. Considering these factors, we have asked Superintendent Bingelli and the School Board members to pull South Lake from consideration at their November 20th School Board Meeting" adds Nunez.
With over 1000 Facebook friends/supporters in less than a week on the Save South Lake Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/save.southlake) the outpouring of support from the community has been overwhelming. Hundreds of supporters are expected to show up at the Brevard County School Board meeting to voice their displeasure at the November 20th Board Meeting in Viera at 5:30 PM.
While many of the State and local legislators who ran on a platform of education have failed to respond yet to pleas for assistance, others including Titusville Mayor James Tulley, County Commissioner Robin Fisher, and House of Representative Tom Goodson has vowed to support South Lake Elementary School
According to the 2012 Brevard County School Board Facilities Review (attached), South Lake is in less need of Long Range Capital Improvements than the majority of schools in the area, including those schools that students would be moved to:
- At least 90% of South Lake Elementary School students scored a level 3 or above in writing for the past six years.
- South Lake Elementary is nationally recognized for its PLC (Professional Learning Community).
- South Lake Elementary was recently renovated and received ADA compliance, technology upgrades, storefront storm windows and doors, a new chiller and additional renovations and upgrades.
- South Lake Elementary absorbed the highest number of students from the recently closed Riverview Elementary School. For those students closing South Lake would mean the students will be at their third school in as many years.
- South Lake Elementary has a much higher rate of free or reduced lunches than most schools in Central Florida (a socio-economic indicator) at 82-86% of the student on the program and at poverty level
"Kids in high-poverty areas are at risk for health and developmental challenges in almost every aspect of their lives, from education to their chances for economic success"-Laura Speer, Associate Director for policy reform and data at the Casey Foundation.
- South Lake Elementary is one of the most ethnically diverse schools in Brevard County with 52% minorities.
- 516 students would be "re-districted" , over 60 employees would be laid off or transferred.
- Only one school in the North Area ranks higher than South Lake Elementary School according to state rankings
- South Lake Elementary School is a shining example of what is working in communities and with children in economically depressed areas, outscoring those in more privileged communities
Unfortunately, with families in crisis, transition and with economic barriers such as those enrolled at South Lake Elementary School, often the parents and caretakers don't have the luxury of being vocal. They work in many cases multiple jobs, are single parent homes, and in some cases are even homeless.
Whereas in some schools, parents have the time, money and influence to petition or rally behind a cause, these parents do not, and unfortunately seem like an easy target for closure in a society where the "squeaky wheel gets the grease".