INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The Indian River County School Board is expected to decide Thompson Magnet Elementary School’s fate tonight. The meeting is expected to draw a large crowd of parents and students and will be held at the County Commission Chambers at the County Administration Complex starting at 6 p.m.
School district leaders are considering closing Thompson Magnet Elementary School and sending its more than 260 students to area schools in an effort to save money.
Vero Beach Elementary could get nearly half the students, if Superintendent Dr. Harry La Cava’s plan were approved. Vero Beach Elementary has the capacity available now to absorb the displaced Thompson Magnet students and would have more capacity once Vero Beach Elementary reopens with a larger campus in 2013.
The option was broached during a budget workshop last month, during which district staff brought up the possibility of “repurposing” Thompson Magnet by converting it into a facility for voluntary pre-kindergarten and the adult education program.
La Cava explained that the move would save the district more than $370,000 annually. He said that there is a perception that if the school closed completely it would result in a windfall of money for the district.
“It doesn’t happen that way,” La Cava said, adding that repurposing the school by expanding voluntary pre-K and providing adult education at Thompson would be a better use of the facility than just closing it.
The school district has struggled for the last few years trying to keep Thompson Magnet open, but with a lack of students and an increasingly tighter budget, La Cava said there is no other option.
Fifty percent of the students at Thompson Magnet were zoned for that school, according to La Cava, which means the school district would have to rezone the area’s schools, including Citrus, Glendale and Vero Beach elementaries.
Other students – those who chose to attend Thompson – would be sent back to their zoned school unless they were to choose another magnet school.
With rezoning of school attendance boundaries and relocation of Thompson Magnet’s 261 students, the following schools could expect to see student populations increase:
– Vero Beach – 125
– Highlands – 94
– Glendale – 44
– Dodgertown – 15
– Beachland – 3
– Treasure Coast and Sebastian – 1 each