Brevard Public Schools elections (2014)

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2014 Brevard Public Schools Elections

General Election date:
August 26, 2014
Runoff Election date:
November 4, 2014
Table of Contents
About the district
Method of election
Elections
What was at stake?
Key deadlines
Additional elections
External links
References
See also
Florida
Brevard Public Schools
Brevard County, Florida ballot measures
Local ballot measures, Florida
Flag of Florida.png

Three seats on the Brevard School Board were up for general election on August 26, 2014. The general election determined if candidates for each seat could garner a majority of the vote total. Because no candidate received 50 percent plus one of the general election votes in for Districts 3 and 5, the top two vote recipients in those races advanced to the runoff election on November 4, 2014.

Andy Ziegler was the only incumbent to seek re-election in 2014. He faced challengers Denise Coyle, Dale D. Davis and Dean Paterakis in the District 5 election. The general elections for Districts 1 and 2 featured challengers seeking to replace outgoing board members Barbara A. Murray and Michael Krupp. Misty Belford and Paul Chinaris were competing in the District 1 race while John Craig, Bob Mentillo and Keith Yarbrough were vying for the District 2 seat.

Only the District 1 race was determined in the general election with Belford's victory. Craig defeated Yarbrough in the District 3 runoff, and Ziegler defeated Coyle for District 5.

See also: What was at stake in the Brevard Public Schools election?

About the district

See also: Brevard Public Schools, Florida
Brevard Public Schools is located in Brevard County, Florida
Brevard Public Schools is based in Viera, a city located in Brevard County, Florida. Brevard County is home to 550,823 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[1] Brevard Public Schools is the 10th-largest school district in Florida, serving 71,792 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[2]

Demographics

Brevard County performed equally to the rest of Florida in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 26.2 percent of Brevard County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 26.2 percent for Florida as a whole. The median household income in Brevard County was $49,099 compared to $47,309 for the state of Florida. The poverty rate in Brevard County was 12.5 percent compared to 15.6 percent for the entire state.[1]

Racial Demographics, 2012[1]
Race Brevard County (%) Florida (%)
White 84.2 78.3
Black or African American 10.5 16.6
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.5 0.5
Asian 2.3 2.7
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1 0.1
Two or More Races 2.4 1.9
Hispanic or Latino 8.8 23.2

Party registration, 2014[3]
Party Number of registered voters
Republican 155,656
Democratic 124,797
Unaffiliated 78,149
Other 13,899
Total 372,501

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[4]

Method of board member selection

The Brevard School Board consists of five members elected to four-year terms. Each member is elected to a specific geographic district. There was a general election on August 26, 2014. The runoff election for Districts 3 and 5 took place on November 4, 2014, because no candidate received 50 percent or more of the general election vote in those races.

Candidates for the school board filed for the election by June 20, 2014. The county's elections office hosted early voting for the general election at various locations from August 16, 2014, to August 23, 2014. The early voting window for the runoff election ran from October 25, 2014, to November 1, 2014. The last day to request a mailed absentee ballot in the general election was August 20, 2014, and the runoff election deadline was October 29, 2014.

Elections

2014

Candidates

[edit]

Candidate defeated in the general election

Candidates defeated in the general election

Election results

Runoff: District 2
Brevard Public Schools, District 2 Runoff Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Craig 57.2% 22,043
     Nonpartisan Keith Yarbrough 42.8% 16,519
Total Votes 38,562
Source: Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, "2014 General Election Unofficial Results," accessed November 5, 2014 These results are unofficial and will be updated when certified results are available.
Runoff: District 5
Brevard Public Schools, District 5 Runoff Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngAndy Ziegler Incumbent 53% 17,832
     Nonpartisan Denise Coyle 47% 15,803
Total Votes 33,635
Source: Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, "2014 General Election Unofficial Results," accessed November 5, 2014 These results are unofficial and will be updated when certified results are available.
General: District 1
Brevard Public Schools, District 1 General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMisty Belford 56.3% 8,297
     Nonpartisan Paul Chinaris 43.7% 6,438
Total Votes 14,735
Source: Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, "2014 Primary Election Official Results," September 2, 2014
General: District 2
Brevard Public Schools, District 2 General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Craig 47.4% 7,622
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngKeith Yarbrough 33.8% 5,427
     Nonpartisan Bob Mentillo 18.8% 3,026
Total Votes 16,075
Source: Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, "2014 Primary Election Official Results," September 2, 2014
General: District 5
Brevard Public Schools, District 5 General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngAndy Ziegler Incumbent 47.9% 5,663
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDenise Coyle 22.5% 2,661
     Nonpartisan Dean Paterakis 17.9% 2,114
     Nonpartisan Dale D. Davis 11.7% 1,381
Total Votes 11,819
Source: Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, "2014 Primary Election Official Results," September 2, 2014

Endorsements

District 1

Chinaris was endorsed by the Brevard County Firefighters.[5]

Belford was endorsed by the following: Brevard Federation of Teachers (BFT), BML radio, Business Voice Political Committee, AFL-CIO and Florida Today.[6]

District 2

Craig was endorsed by the Brevard Federation of Teachers (BFT), Business Voice of East Central Florida, Space Coast Association of Realtors (SCAR) and Florida Today.[7]

Mentillo received an endorsement from Florida Today, as well.[8]

Yarbrough did not receive any endorsements in this election.

District 5

Ziegler received endorsements from Florida Today and the Brevard Federation of Teachers (BFT).[9][10]

Coyle was endorsed by the Brevard Times following a campaign sign removal incident with incumbent Andy Ziegler.[11]

Paterakis was endorsed by Bea Fowler, a former school board member.[12]

Davis did not receive any endorsements in this election.

Campaign finance

The following totals are as of reports available from the Brevard County Supervisor of elections on October 27, 2014.

District 1

In the District 1 race, candidates received a total of $31,491.72 and spent a total of $28,098.86.[13]

Candidate Monetary
contributions
In-kind
contributions
Expenditures Cash on hand
Misty Belford $11,805.62 $966.33 $9,750.40 $2,055.22
Paul Chinaris $18,369.20 $350.57 $18,348.46 $20.74
District 2

In the District 2 race, candidates received a total of $56,001.33 and spent a total of $26,133.67.[13]

Candidate Monetary
contributions
In-kind
contributions
Expenditures Cash on hand
John Craig $36,622.55 $2,279.19 $29,643.67 $6,978.88
Bob Mentillo $4,515.00 $255.39 $3,407.56 $1,107.44
Keith Yarbrough $10,710.50 $1,618.70 $9,808.08 $902.42
District 5

In the District 5 race, candidates received a total of $67,074.01 and spent a total of $52,100.97.[13]

Candidate Monetary
contributions
In-kind
contributions
Expenditures Cash on hand
Denise Coyle $11,058.29 $2,931.39 $10,985.50 $72.79
Dale D. Davis $4,255.00 $241.30 $4,255.00 $0.00
Dean Paterakis $3,681.20 $665.83 $3,681.20 $0.00
Andy Ziegler $44,241.00 $0.00 $33,179.27 $11,061.73

Past elections

What was at stake?

Recent school closure decisions by the school board and discussion of a half-cent sales tax dominated discussions in this year's school board races. The contentious decision to close schools likely contributed to two incumbents' decisions to not seek re-election.

Issues

Issues in the election

Zeigler sign removal

Video taken by Dean Paterakis. Brevard Times, "Brevard County School Board Member Andy Ziegler Alleged Petty Theft," November 1, 2014

Andy Ziegler admitted to removing six campaign signs which included the phrase "Less Andy." Ziegler contended that he had "implied permission" from the owners of the properties the signs were placed on. This issue came to a head when Ziegler called 911 on October 27, 2014, alleging that Denise Coyle was chasing him in his car along with former opponent Dean Paterakis. Coyle contended that the signs Ziegler removed were not hers, but ownership of the signs was claimed by a volunteer on her campaign, Margaret Goudelock, who filed the police complaint alleging the theft of the signs.[15]

Coyle denied following Ziegler. Both candidates stated that they were checking on their campaign signs. Following Ziegler's call to the police, both pulled into the parking lot of the Palm Bay Police Department. While on the line Ziegler referred to both Coyle and Paterakis as "stupid" for "putting up illegal signs. They're even stupid enough to be following me into the police station." When asked about the recording of the 911 call, Coyle stated, "I'm appalled that he would call somebody stupid, and call me stupid."[15]

The Palm Bay Police Department's investigation was completed on October 30, 2014. The matter now goes to the State Attorney's office, which will decide whether or not to pursue a charge of petty theft against Ziegler.[15] The issue was a direct factor in the Brevard Times decision to endorse Coyle for the District 5 seat.[11]

Tax increase and school closures
See also: Brevard County School Facilities Tax Question (November 2012)

How to handle potential school closures in light of a failed tax referendum drew strong opinions from all sides in the district. After voters rejected a tax increase in 2012, the school board voted to close three schools in order to balance the district's budget: South Lake Elementary School, Gardendale Elementary School and Clearlake Middle School.[16]

The decision led a group of parents and the Florida Civil Rights Association (FCRA) to file a lawsuit against the district, which accused the board of closing certain schools because of racial discrimination. All three schools chosen for closure educated a significant percentage of minority students.[17][18] The Brevard County Commission and Titusville City Council also sued the district to stop the closures on the basis that the board had violated an agreement to consult with the commission and council before making school closure decisions.[19] On April 15, 2013, and May 31, 2013, 18th Judicial Circuit Court Judge George Maxwell denied both requests to halt the closures.[20][21][22] On April 8, 2014, the Brevard County Commission and Titusville City Council agreed to drop their lawsuit after the district revised its school closure policy to be more transparent.[23][24]

The November 4, 2014, ballot featured another half-cent sales tax referendum.

Early in 2014, the board had said that it would release a list of potential school closures before the election. However, the board reversed that decision in April 2014 since a majority of its members supported waiting until after the November election to make that announcement. District 5 incumbent and 2014 candidate Andy Ziegler voiced concerns that releasing a potential closure list would affect school performance and morale.[24]

In an interview with News 13, Superintendent Brian Binggeli highlighted the need for additional revenue to keep more schools from closing and to fund repairs and upgrades to facilities across the district. He stated, "We just want our communities to understand the types of things, air conditioning, roofs, pipes, things that we really need to renew at every facility."[25]

Local parents organized a nonprofit group, Brevard Save Our Students (BSOS), to promote the tax increase. BSOS Chair Adrian Laffittee argued, "If we don't get the half-cent tax, then we're going to be short by $8 million." Brevard Clerk of the Court Scott Ellis wrote an opinion piece in Space Coast Daily which questioned the necessity for additional revenue and the board's transparency on how the money would be spent. Ellis criticized the board for having "no detailed plan for expenditures of any new money" and added that voters should reject the tax increase due to the lack of information provided by the district.[26]

District 1 candidate responses

Misty Belford said,

Even with increased efficiency, our schools desperately need additional funding to meet the needs of our students and counter declines in funding streams including property tax and PECO dollars. The surtax will bring that funding with minimal cost to our residents and benefiting from visitor spending. All of the surrounding counties have a school surtax. We support their schools when we spend in neighboring counties. Visitors to Brevard contribute nothing to our schools. The cost of the surtax to Brevard residents will be minimal ($25 per year for the average family) but the return on investment is significant when you consider funds generated by visitors as well as the impact of high quality schools on our local economy.[27]

—Belford, (2014), [28]

Paul Chinaris said,

Many of the school districts in Florida have surplus sales tax to help fund their schools. With our beautiful beaches and the busy cruise terminals, our tourist could help fund our schools if the sales tax is voted in.[27]

—Chinaris, (2014), [28]

District 2 candidate responses

John Craig said,

I support a sales surtax for a four to six year period with stringent oversight by a committee of nonpartisan community members. Since the administration has not provided the language for the ballot initiative or a defined plan for oversight, I do not know if I will support the actual proposal come November.

The current BPS financial situation is tenuous, with long-term debt service requirements creating a shortfall in the capital budget. We cannot compromise the health and safety of our children and teachers. We must provide a proper learning environment or we are failing our primary mission. A sales surtax will provide revenue required to repair our infrastructure and give us some breathing room while a new School Board creates a long-term strategic plan for fiscal solvency.[27]

—Craig, (2014)

Bob Mentillo said,

Financially our school district seems to be in dire straights. But the current leadership has shown a lack of ability to properly spend the money they have. So giving them more does not seem like a good idea, unless the money is allocated to a specific need for a specific time. Or the leadership is changed. Or both. We have a huge debt and our needs are growing faster than the money provided by the state. We need to work on getting the state to better fund our schools, and they are not willing to do that at this point. We need to work on that too. I believe the school district should specify that this money be spent on debt reduction and matched by district level cuts, not school level cuts.

So, I support the ½ penny sales tax if certain stipulations are met.[27]

—Mentillo, (2014)

Keith Yarbrough said,

Whether or not the surtax passes is totally dependent on the level of trust that Brevard citizens have in its school board. At present, that level is extremely low and the superintendent and board have no one to blame but themselves.[27]

—Yarbrough, (2014)

District 5 candidate responses

Denise Coyle said,

At this time, it is difficult to support this referendum as this is a double-edged sword. We cannot afford to ignore the underlying issues. Issue one is to “trust” that BPS will perform in a fiscally responsible manner. Issue two is, “Haven’t we been taxed enough?” BPS need to change the message and develop a new structure that is more transparent and accountable to the taxpayers by providing them with the benefits of passing this sales tax rather than highlighting the punishments if not passed. I propose that an independent critical needs committee evaluate the needs of every school, along with an independent oversight board to ensure that these needs are being met and that the money is being spent on priorities, capital repair and maintenance rather than on capital additions and wants. It is then that you will have a YES vote. Students, teachers and schools must be our priority.[27]

—Coyle, (2014), [30]

Dale Davis said,

No I do not support the Half-Cent sales, surtax. Why not?

First: Duration. The ballot language will be required very soon. I heard Superintendent Dr. Binggeli while at a forum quote six to ten years of surtax. That is not defined. Wildly guessing from $210 to $350 million, shows no planning.

Secondly: Accountability. With deferred projects totaling and estimated $105-134 million, why are they asking for two, three times what is needed to rectify past capital projects? I could support a three year half-cent tax only if we had a blue ribbon citizens advisory committee, and publicly accounted line item spending of each dollar given by Brevard County taxpayers.

Thirdly: Lack of vision. There was no plan, there is no plan. We are back to budget levels prior to the 2004-2007 bubble. We do not have a revenue problem, we continue to have a spending and planning problem.[27]

—Davis, (2014), [30]

Dean Paterakis said,

Absolutely not! I do not like our taxes spent frivolously. Our schools continue to misspend millions of our tax-dollars. Why would I, or anyone, want to give the board members more money to waste? How can our schools justify principals and administrators having salaries over $107,000 and then give several of them over $500,000 each just because they had worked for the school board? How can the board justify giving a no-bid contract for $8 million when they supposedly don’t have money. Why isn’t anyone prosecuted when there is an investigation done and found that the facilities department misspent over $3 million in no-bid contracts to friends and family? Why do we continue to employ the CFO that put us in this mess to begin with? No, I am not supporting a ½ cent sales tax until the senior staff is held accountable for these actions.[27]

—Paterakis, (2014), [30]

Issues in the district

Band director firing and rehiring

In November 2012, the school board fired high school band leader James Wilkins over accusations of misconduct. Wilkins had been accused of mistreating his students, using inappropriate language with students and mismanaging band funds.[31] However, the allegations were later proven to be false. One such allegation was that Wilkins had made sexual comments about one of the female members of the band. The student who made the allegation later admitted under oath that he made the statement against Wilkins after being badgered by district investigators. An administrative law judge ruled in November 2013 that the district could not prove any of the allegations which it had used as rational for Wilkins's dismissal.[32] The full ruling by administrative law judge Robert S. Cohen can be read here. Wilkins was reinstated to his job and received back pay for in January 2014.[33]

Key deadlines

The following dates were key deadlines for the school board election in 2014:[34]

Deadline Event
June 20, 2014 Last day of candidate filing period
August 16, 2014 First day of early voting in general election
August 20, 2014 Last day to request mailed absentee ballot for general election
August 23, 2014 Last day of early voting in general election
August 26, 2014 General election day
October 25, 2014 First day of early voting in runoff election
October 29, 2014 Last day to request mailed absentee ballot for runoff election
November 1, 2014 Last day of early voting in runoff election
November 4, 2014 Runoff election day

Additional elections on the ballot

See also: Florida elections, 2014

Area residents voted on county and statewide races on November 4, 2014. Residents of Brevard County voted on races for county commission and county judge seats. Voters decided on a statewide ballot measure to amend the state constitution to allow the use of medical marijuana. The November 4, 2014, ballot included races for state legislature, state executive and U.S. House seats. There was also a tax levy referendum over a half-cent sales tax to support infrastructure repairs and school upkeep at Brevard Public Schools for a six-year span.[35]

Recent news

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See also

External links

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 United States Census Bureau, "Brevard County, Florida," accessed July 7, 2014
  2. National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed July 7, 2014
  3. Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, "2014 Candidates," accessed July 7, 2014
  4. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  5. Paul Chinaris, "Homepage," accessed August 21, 2014
  6. Misty Belford, "Endorsements," accessed August 21, 2014
  7. John Craig for Brevard Schools, "Homepage," accessed August 21, 2014
  8. Florida Today, "Endorsement: Mentillo's mission for classrooms," August 6, 2014
  9. Florida Today, "Endorsement: Keep Ziegler's professionalism," August 6, 2014
  10. Brevard Times, "Teachers' Union Backs Brevard County School Board Candidates," August 17, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 Brevard Times, "Endorsement: Denise Coyle For Brevard County School Board District 5," November 1, 2014
  12. Dean Paterakis, "Recommendations," accessed August 20, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, "Candidate Contributions and Expenditures," accessed August 21, 2014
  14. Brevard County Supervisor of Elections, "2010 Candidates," accessed August 20, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Florida Today, "State Attorney's Office to determine charges in school board campaign scandal," October 31, 2014
  16. WESH.com, "Parents, students disappointed over Brevard school closures," February 13, 2014
  17. News 13, "Parents accuse Brevard School Board of racial discrimination," March 5, 2013
  18. Florida Today, "Lawsuit claims racial bias in Brevard school closures," March 5, 2013
  19. News 13, "Brevard County Commission sues school board over closings," March 20, 2013
  20. WESH Orlando, "Decision on Brevard County school closures delayed," April 2, 2013
  21. WESH Orlando, "Judge refuses to prevent closure of three Brevard County schools," May 31, 2013
  22. Hometown News, "Judge denies lawsuit against School Board to halt school closures," April 26, 2013
  23. Florida Today, "County, School Board end battle on closures," April 13, 2014
  24. 24.0 24.1 Florida Today, "Brevard schools targeted for closure won't be named," April 9, 2014
  25. News 13, "Can half-cent sales tax save Brevard schools from closing?," August 21, 2014
  26. Space Coast Daily, "Serious Questions Should Be Asked of the School Board," July 1, 2014
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 27.7 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Brevard Times, "FIRST LOOK: Brevard School Board, District 1 Candidates," April 22, 2014
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Brevard Times, "FIRST LOOK: Brevard School Board, District 2 Candidates," April 21, 2014
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Brevard Times, "FIRST LOOK: Brevard School Board, District 5 Candidates," April 25, 2014
  31. Bay News 9, "High school band director fired amid misconduct claims," November 21, 2012
  32. WFTV.com 9, "Judge says allegations against fired high school band director unwarranted," November 4, 2013
  33. Facebook, "Brevard Federation of Teachers," January 29, 2014
  34. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named calendar
  35. Florida Today, "Brevard schools sales-tax run would last 6 years," June 26, 2014