A coach and teacher at Satellite High School is floating an idea to merge the school with its neighbor, Delaura Middle.
The proposal would create one school serving grades 7-12, much like the nearby Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High School.
Satellite High head football coach Ted Kimmey, who is also as a physical education and English teacher, circulated a letter on Facebook asking for support after a town hall-style meeting last month between school staff, school board member Tina Descovich and superintendent Desmond Blackburn. “Two weeks ago – the faculty/staff from SHS met with Superintendent Blackburn and Board Member Mrs. Descovich and initiated the proposal to combine Delaura Middle School and Satellite High School into a Jr/Sr High School with Delaura serving as a 7th & 8th Grade Center. We are truly in the infancy stages of this (it will take time), but I cannot stress the amount of momentum we could drive from the faculty, coach, parent and community voice,” Kimmey’s letter states. “I ask you and anyone in your close circle to reach out to the district to voice your support behind this initiative and call them to action.”
Both school and district officials, however, say no such plan was initiated, and they are not considering it in any way.
“There is no initiative by the district or School Board to merge Satellite High and Delaura Middle School,” Brevard Public Schools spokesperson Matt Reed said. “The idea has circulated among some parents on social media, and one faculty member broached the subject to Superintendent Blackburn and Board Member Tina Descovich during a recent visit and listening session. But BPS is not researching that now.”
Descovich, the School Board member who represents the district that includes Satellite and Delaura, confirmed the idea was mentioned at the meeting but said there was no further discussion.
Delaura Principal Bobby Pruett also confirmed merging the two schools was not under consideration.
There are currently five junior/senior high schools in Brevard County – Cocoa Beach, Cocoa, Westshore in Melbourne, Edgewood in Merritt Island and Space Coast in Cocoa.
Westshore and Edgewood are “schools of choice,” meaning they have no neighborhood boundaries, and the entire student body is chosen based on an application and lottery system.
In his letter, Kimmey mentioned sports, academics and extracurricular activities as advantages to combining Delaura and Satellite.
Each of the existing junior/senior schools is set up slightly differently, but in general they have one principal and staff for the entire school, and share the same campus. Seventh- and eighth-graders are allowed to participate in most high school sports and other extracurricular activities, although some are separate.
Middle-school-age students also have more opportunities to take high school classes in the junior/senior model.
Dozens of parents took to social media to express their views, both for and against, on merging the schools.
“There’s a big difference between a 7th/8th grader and 12th grader. Not sure how I feel about this.”
“I love the idea of the same hours and the sports availability for Jr. high.”
“I am not sure if I would be for or against the idea of a jr/sr high. I do know that DeLaura sports teams are really lacking.”
Stephanie Soliven, assistant superintendent for secondary leading and learning, said the existing junior/senior high schools were created because there were not enough students to support a separate middle and high school in those areas.
“Each of the schools became 7-12 schools as a result of capacity planning, typically indicating that the enrollment of either or both sites was under capacity and combining the programs would increase efficiencies,” Soliven said.
The junior/senior high schools are still the smallest in Brevard County. Cocoa Beach, Edgewood and West Shore each have about 1,000 students, which also puts them among the smallest public high schools in the state. Space Coast and Cocoa each have around 1,400 students.
By contrast, Delaura alone has 808 students, while Satellite has about 1,300. A combination of the two schools would have roughly 2,100 students. That would put it on par with the two largest high schools in the county, Melbourne and Viera, which each have more than 2,000 students.
The large student body that could result from a Delaura/Satellite merger has some parents concerned.
“It would make our school one of the biggest schools, if not the biggest school, in the county,” said Devon Vann, who has a seventh-grader at Delaura.
Vann is a vice president of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, but said she was sharing her personal opinion and not speaking for the PTO or school in general.