New schools still needed for Viera-Suntree


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One of the fastest growing schools in Brevard County is Quest Elementary School in Viera.

Jill Blue

When will Viera-Suntree area residents see the construction of new public elementary and middle schools?

As part of a five-year plan set forth from Brevard County Public Schools in February 2017, a new elementary school, built on a site southwest of Quest Elementary, would be slated to open for the 2021-2022 school year, according to Brevard County School District 4 representative Matt Susin.

“The reason that 2021 makes sense is because that is at which the capacity of the elementary school will be justified with the student capacity to build it,” Susin said.

The need to do something with respect to capacity management is clear when looking at projected capacities for area elementary schools.

For the 2017-2018 school year, Quest served 1,000 students, Manatee 914 and Suntree 686. From a percentage standpoint, Quest and Manatee operated at 96 percent capacity while Suntree operated at 91 percent.

Manatee and Suntree are projected to maintain capacities exceeding 90 percent for the next five years, while Quest’s capacity is forecast to skyrocket with 117 percent capacity by 2019-2020 and 126 percent by 2022-2023.

“Quest is growing so fast that it’s not sustainable without building another elementary school,” Susin said. “ … There has to be a new elementary school built.”

Susin adds that the elementary school will cost $22 million to build, all of which will come from impact fees, which he says can only be used for new construction.

Plans remain in place for the school to become a reality, though a recent recommendation from a staff member with Brevard County Public Schools at a July 10 workshop leaves open the possibility that plans could change. The presence of Pinecrest Charter Academy in Viera, which projects to open for the 2019-2020 school year, could alter those plans.

“We think it’s important to kind of see where the charter school effect shakes out in our enrollment,” said Susan Hann, the director of planning and project managements with Brevard Public Schools at the workshop.

When contacted by the Viera Voice, District 3 board representative Tina Descovich agreed with the notion that the recommendation made the situation more fluid.

“I am not willing to say at this point that I don’t think we need the elementary school,” said District 1 representative Misty Belford. “I think we may not need it as soon as we need it based on our student numbers and the opening charter school.”

BPS projects Pinecrest to hold 470 students if and when it opens, though as District 3 board representative Andy Ziegler notes, there is no solidified land or building contract as of yet for Pinecrest.

Still, the would-be charter school would only offer a temporary solution, Ziegler says.

“That means that there could be a reprieve of urgency for elementary capacity in Viera. However, there’s still obviously a need for elementary capacity,” Ziegler said. “In my opinion, we should not sit back and do nothing, just because there might be a charter school.”

The new elementary school in Viera projects to have an opening enrollment of 424 students, taking 214 from Longleaf Elementary, 82 from Suntree, 69 from Quest and 59 from Sherwood, BPS says. It also will have 970 student stations.

In either event, it’s clear that continued growth in the area will force BPS to consider a host of capacity management options, which includes evaluating existing space for classroom conversion, portables, classroom additions, boundary changes and moving sixth grade back to middle school.

Hann also recommended the board send out a request for proposals for a new prototype design for a new elementary school with new security framework.

In addition, Hann recommended adding portables to Quest in August 2019, considering boundary changes for underdeveloped areas and that the BPS capacity plan be updated early next year.

Perhaps as pressing a need, if not more so, is the need for the construction of a new middle school in the area. Much as it was at the elementary school level, there are capacity issues creeping up quickly at both Kennedy Middle School in Rockledge and DeLaura Middle School in Satellite Beach. These are the two schools where Viera-Suntree students predominantly attend middle school.

A would-be middle school that would be located adjacent to Viera High School could solve these issues. The school would come with a $35 million price tag that is also derived from impact fees, Susin said, and it would be open sometime between the start of the 2022 and 2024 school years.

Susin is a particularly strong proponent of building the school and is urging residents who also want the school to be built to speak out.

“We’ll first have a discussion and then we’ll probably set direction on the 14th of August and in order to do that, we need to have two other board members, at least three to set the direction for that. … We’re not there yet, we need those two votes. They need to hear from the community that this is something that we need. This isn’t a done

urgency for elementary capacity in Viera. However, there’s still obviously a need for elementary capacity,” Ziegler said. “In my opinion, we should not sit back and do nothing, just because there might be a charter school.”

The new elementary school in Viera projects to have an opening enrollment of 424 students, taking 214 from Longleaf Elementary, 82 from Suntree, 69 from Quest and 59 from Sherwood, BPS says. It also will have 970 student stations.

In either event, it’s clear that continued growth in the area will force BPS to consider a host of capacity management options, which includes evaluating existing space for classroom conversion, portables, classroom additions, boundary changes and moving sixth grade back to middle school.

Hann also recommended the board send out a request for proposals for a new prototype design for a new elementary school with new security framework.

In addition, Hann recommended adding portables to Quest in August 2019, considering boundary changes for underdeveloped areas and that the BPS capacity plan be updated early next year.

Perhaps as pressing a need, if not more so, is the need for the construction of a new middle school in the area. Much as it was at the elementary school level, there are capacity issues creeping up quickly at both Kennedy Middle School in Rockledge and DeLaura Middle School in Satellite Beach. These are the two schools where Viera-Suntree students predominantly attend middle school.

A would-be middle school that would be located adjacent to Viera High School could solve these issues. The school would come with a $35 million price tag that is also derived from impact fees, Susin said, and it would be open sometime between the start of the 2022 and 2024 school years.

Susin is a particularly strong proponent of building the school and is urging residents who also want the school to be built to speak out.

“We’ll first have a discussion and then we’ll probably set direction on the 14th of August and in order to do that, we need to have two other board members, at least three to set the direction for that. … We’re not there yet, we need those two votes. They need to hear from the community that this is something that we need. This isn’t a done

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