Brevard School Board candidates differ on cost-cutting

Brevard School Board candidates Keri Lewis and incumbent Karen Henderson both say they want to maintain the quality of Space Coast schools.

But they differ on how they should go about it.

Lewis, a self-described fiscal conservative, has come down hard on a proposed half-cent sales tax that will be on the November ballot. If approved, the tax will raise about $32 million annually for Brevard Public Schools for facility repairs, replacements and purchases.

If elected, Lewis said she wants to dig into the school district’s spending. “There’s a lot of waste going on,” she said, pointing to performing arts centers and stadiums that were built in recent years, while DeLaura Middle’s gym was never air-conditioned.

If cuts were needed, Lewis said she would look at administration and middle-management costs, and seek savings by contracting out positions.

Henderson, meanwhile, said Brevard Public Schools has “cut just about everywhere we can.” If more savings are needed, she would suggest reorganizing departments.

Explaining her vote on the proposed half-cent sales tax, Henderson said she felt “voters should tell us how we need to move forward.”

The proposed tax increase would help pay for facility repairs, replacements and upgrades that are traditionally paid through the district’s capital funding stream. That has fallen from $117 million in state and local funding in 2007-08 to an expected $43 million this upcoming school year.

Both candidates grew up on the Space Coast and touted their local roots.

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