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8. Sunshine Furniture

9. Vero Beach Bridge Center
10. Many Medical

Charter schools set to carry fight to a higher court
week of May 26, 2016

The end-game just got farther away for cash-starved public charter schools in Indian River County that say they are entitled to a larger share of tax revenue from the school board. But that certainly doesn’t mean they are giving up. Division of Administrative Hearings Judge Cathy Sellers has decided she does not have jurisdiction to rule on a case filed by the charter schools in mid-April seeking millions of dollars in back payments. So the charter schools are now preparing to up their legal-fee ante by filing in a higher court. “We’re, frankly, pretty excited about this,” said Gene Waddell, president of the Indian River Charter High School board. He said he spoke with the leadership of the county’s charter schools shortly after the case was dismissed, and found a consensus to take the court case further. “We see this issue as being too big and too important for a lower court,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the challenge was being heard in the wrong forum,” said school board member Shawn Frost, whose children attend a charter school, and who supports the charters’ effort to get more funding. READ FULL STORY

Vero helps Florida Institute of Technology raise $123 million
week of May 26, 2016

Vero Beach is only a 45-minute car ride from the Florida Tech campus in Melbourne, so Florida Institute of Technology President Tony Catanese knows all about the affluent investors, retired corporate executives and arts lovers to the south in Indian River County. For that reason, during the past few years, while undertaking a fundraising campaign with a $100 million goal, he charged his trusted special assistant, Frank “Fritz” Spitzmiller, to set up meet-and-greet forums where Florida Tech professors could share their latest research and chat with Vero area residents at island clubs including The Moorings, John’s Island and Windsor. Spitzmiller also arranged for retired island execs such as Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot to go north to talk about the finer points of entrepreneurship at FIT’s business school. At the same time, Catanese realized Vero’s strong arts community could be tapped to bring more attention to the university and more visitors to the university’s Foosaner Art Museum in Eau Gallie and the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts on the FIT campus. READ FULL STORY

Island man accused of computer hacking
week of May 26, 2016

A nasty soap opera involving the owner of a Miracle Mile consignment shop and three former workers has resulted in the store owner’s husband being charged by the Indian River Sheriff’s Office with illegally hacking into an online account belonging to one of the ex-employees last September. James Timothy “Tim” Wakeland, 52, who lives in the River Ridge neighborhood in the south barrier island, is married to Jordan Wakeland, owner of Labels at 2050 6th Avenue. Wakeland was charged with an offense against computer users, a third-degree felony, and was booked at the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office at 5:40 p.m. May 17 on a warrant that had been issued four days earlier by Indian River County. There was no explanation of why Wakeland turned himself in at the Sheriff’s Office in Sumter County, but Sumter is 150 miles and two and a half hours from Vero Beach – well outside the circulation and coverage area of Indian River County newspapers. Wakeland, who is listed on state documents as a manager with Labels, is also a Bank of America loan officer, according to his attorney John Unruh and public records. READ FULL STORY

Change in focus: A reimagination of the Environmental Learning Center
week of May 26, 2016

The environmental Learning Center is reinventing itself. Without letting go of the children’s nature education curriculum that has made it a treasured part of growing up in Vero Beach, the 28-year-old nonprofit organization is expanding its ecological portfolio to include more “nature therapy,” reaching out to young and old alike to reconnect people with the natural world in ways that enhance both human and environmental health. “There is so much research that is growing and growing that there is a significant human/nature disconnect that is associated with increased screen time and reduced access to green spaces,” says ELC Executive Director Molly Steinwald. “That disconnect is leading to a rise in depression, obesity, ADHD and other health problems.” With the strong backing of her board, Steinwald is seeking to make the Environmental Learning Center into a portal through which people can enter back into a more healthy and meaningful way of relating to themselves and the world around them, leaving behind some of their stress and “disease” as they explore the ELC’s 64-acre campus and engage in projects that help protect and restore the lagoon that laps against the institution’s green shores. READ FULL STORY

Motive in bizarre South Beach murder apparently not money
week of May 26, 2016

South barrier island resident Asbury Lee Perkins is charged with the premeditated shooting death of his estranged wife Cynthia Betts back in November, telling police on the scene he did it because she constantly nagged him and took money from their account. But court papers show Perkins was not set to inherit a windfall had he managed elude prosecution. The Last Will and Testament of Cynthia Betts, drawn up in 1991 when Betts and Perkins were still just newlyweds, states that she would bequeath nearly all her worldly possessions to her brother in New Jersey, or as a backup, to her father. Should Betts perish, the will states, Perkins would only receive $5,000, some “household goods” and his wife’s Volvo station wagon. By the time he was arrested for murder after being found at 2120 Seagrape Drive with Betts’ body rolled up in an area rug, Perkins had been declared indigent while facing DUI and domestic violence charges. The couple’s half-million dollar home in Vero’s south beach had been quit-claim deeded over to Betts and Perkins had signed his Power of Attorney over to Betts for personal and business matters. READ FULL STORY

School District putting schools, property in hock
week of May 19, 2016

Eleven year ago, the Indian River County School District owned Vero Beach High School and the land it sits on along with all the other district schools and land. But that was before it plunged into a building finance scheme designed to prevent voters from having a say in school bond issues as required by state law. Since that time, the District has put about 30 percent of school property, including the high school, in hock, and encumbered $133 million in property taxes, all while using a legal loophole to bypass the state’s constitutional requirement that “long-term” debt be approved by voters. Certificates of participation, a fancy form of financing using double-speak, legal fictions and pass-through leasing entities, are wildly popular with Florida school districts and the Indian River County School District is no exception. It is the go-to form of financing for multimillion-dollar capital projects because it gets around holding a referendum meant to ensure the current and next generation aren’t saddled with paying off debt through their property taxes without first giving permission. READ FULL STORY

Neighbors of Shores A1A parcel want it turned into park
week of May 19, 2016

Residents who live near a 5.5-acre parcel near the ocean that the Town of Indian River Shores is considering rezoning for development want the land turned into a park instead. Shores Planning Zoning and Variance Board alternate Judy Orcutt presented a proposal last week to preserve what she called the Town’s “hidden gem” for public enjoyment instead of selling the property, which has an appraised value of $7.7 million, for condominiums or townhouses. Orcutt, an environmental activist and major supporter of efforts to deal with lagoon issues and set aside conservation lands, told the PZV Board members that the Shores has no parks, and that she thinks the Town needs the green space more than it needs the tax dollars that would flow in from selling the land for development. “There may never be another opportunity like this one to preserve open space for future generations,” Orcutt said in her proposal. “The Town doesn’t own any other land that is suitable for a park. A park’s natural features and open environment would help define the Town’s image and distinctive character.” READ FULL STORY

PSC sets hearing on Shores’ bid to escape grasp of Vero electric
week of May 19, 2016

The Florida Public Service Commission has scheduled a hearing June 9 to decide whether it will consider or dismiss the Town of Indian River Shores’ request that it look into the status of Vero Beach’s electric territory. Eighty percent of Shores residents are served by Vero’s electric utility, while 20 percent get power from Florida Power & Light, paying substantially lower rates. The Town wants all residents to be served by FPL, but Vero says the Town lacks standing to ask the Public Service Commission to consider changing the bounds of Vero’s electric territory. The Town alleges the PSC should open up the territory due to changed circumstances – the termination of Vero’s franchise agreement with the Shores when the agreement expires in November and the Town’s wish to bring all of its residents into FPL’s system. Vero says its PSC-awarded service territory is virtually permanent and immune to whether or not it has a valid franchise agreement with the Shores; it has asked the PSC to dismiss the Shores’ complaint. READ FULL STORY

Orchid rejects plan for assisted living facility
week of May 19, 2016

The fate of Ken Puttick’s assisted living project, planned for a 7-acre commercial parcel on CR-510 in the town of Orchid, was plain to see even before last Wednesday’s town council meeting got underway. Call it a classic case of NIMBYism or the legitimate expression of a community’s lifestyle concerns; either way, the plan was never going to fly and the meeting was more of a formality than a decision-making endeavor. Even though Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club is largely empty this time of year, with most residents gone back to northern homes, the second-floor dining room in the oceanfront clubhouse was packed with more than a 100 residents by the time the 9 a.m. meeting got underway. Most looked grim and all who were asked said they opposed the upscale 120-unit senior living and memory care project Puttick’s team was there to pitch. “What is being proposed violates every restriction there is on the property,” said former town council member Bill Troxell. “I am dead set against it.” READ FULL STORY

County to Miami-Dade: Keep your hands off our sand
week of May 19, 2016

Keep your shovels out of our sand! That's the message Indian River County, along with Martin and St. Lucie, will send to the Army Corps of Engineers, protesting a plan to gobble up and relocate an unspecified amount of “bulk ocean sand” from the Treasure Coast to Miami-Dade County, via an agreement between Miami-Dade and the Corps. Of the 100-plus million cubic yards of beach-compatible sand along the shores of St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach and Miami Dade counties, approximately 5.2 million cubic yards is available for removal in federal waters off St. Lucie and Martin Counties, according to a Florida Department of Environmental Protection-Army Corps of Engineers study. It is these counties the Miami-Dade project specifically names as a source of sand to replenish South Florida’s world famous beaches. When the project first appeared on Indian River County radar back in January, the County Commission, along with the other Treasure Coast counties, voiced opposition, and listed several concerns. Although Indian River County was not included in the study, officials believe removal of beach sand from the neighboring counties could negatively affect Indian River County as the growing demand for beach quality sand continues. READ FULL STORY

Police account of chilling murder on South Beach
week of May 12, 2016

Newly-released police records provide a riveting, real-time account of events leading to the arrest and eventual indictment for first-degree murder of 58-year-old Asbury Lee Perkins, who is accused of killing his wife at their South Beach home in November. The “Detail Call for Service Report” – 18 pages of back and forth communication between deputies and the Sheriff’s Office dispatch – was among the discovery documents demanded by Perkins’ public defender. When combined with the arrest warrant narrative, the computer-generated log presents a moment-by-moment description of what started as a routine welfare check and ended with the discovery of Realtor Cynthia Betts’ dead body. The call report shows that Betts’ father, William Betts, called police after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to ask them to check on his 63-year-old daughter because he’d been unable to reach her. The report indicates the father told the call-taker that Perkins was an alcoholic with a history of domestic violence. The father told police he had spoken with his daughter on Saturday, which was Halloween night, but that when he called back on Sunday and Monday, he got no answer on either her cellphone or her landline phone. READ FULL STORY

Bridges could yet pose obstacle for high speed train
week of May 12, 2016

The spans across the canals and rivers of northern Indian River County could be like a scene from the Bridges at Toko-Ri for the massively powerful All Aboard Florida operation, as local officials band together to use bureaucratic push-back to block environmental permits needed to run train tracks over and through sensitive waters and wetlands. Bad publicity, open rebellion and throngs of attorneys seem to have succeeded, albeit temporarily, in killing the market for All Aboard Florida’s revenue bonds, but county and city officials want to stop the train itself from rolling – ironically, using as their weapon the same big-government regulations and processes these small-government conservatives moan about on a regular basis. Even if the money eventually materializes to fund the 32-train-a-day project designed to whisk tourists from Miami to Orlando and back, agencies tasked with protecting our natural resources must sign off on plans to demolish and rebuild the train tracks over the St. Sebastian River from Roseland to Micco. READ FULL STORY

‘Project manager’ in fraud case to be sentenced for unrelated grand theft
week of May 12, 2016

Among the cast of characters in a criminal case involving a contractor accused of bilking three sets of Vero Beach homeowners out of more than $150,000 is a “project manager” who is scheduled to be sentenced for grand theft next week in a case unrelated to the contractor’s alleged crimes. William “Charlie” Jones’ name appears again and again in the arrest warrant narrative that landed Vero Lake Estates resident Mark Murphy in jail last month. Jones seemed to have had the most contact with the homeowners, including two on the island, all of whom hired Murphy’s company, Absolute Building and Restoration. Jones was arrested here in September 2014 on two felony charges. The state ended up not prosecuting him on a charge of “uttering a forged bill, check or draft,” but Jones was found guilty in a jury trial in March of second-degree grand theft (at least $20,000 but less than $100,000). It is not clear if Jones was already working for Murphy at that time of the events that resulted in the felony charges, or if he went to work for the contractor after being arrested, because both Jones and Murphy have declined to be interviewed by law enforcement, according to sheriff’s Lt. Milo Thornton, who investigated the Murphy case for more than a year with State Attorney Bruce Colton’s office. READ FULL STORY

Failed subdivision is an odd intruder on Pelican Island preserve
week of May 12, 2016

A site on the north barrier island where an architect dreamed of building luxury homes with rooftop swimming pools overlooking a pristine wildlife preserve remains in limbo eight years after the project faltered, an eyesore with a future fate unknown. The Great Recession left Florida littered with foreclosed subdivisions and never-realized housing projects where vacant lots and desolate streets overgrown with weeds serve as a sad legacy of the corruption, greed and speculative mania that fueled the biggest housing bust in history. There was far less of this on the barrier island than elsewhere in Florida – with housing and lot prices here now back above their pre-2007 levels – but this particular 3.71-acre failed subdivision is no ordinary empty property. Subdivided into 10 lots a stone’s throw off of A1A, the site abuts the famed Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s first wildlife refuge founded in 1903. President Theodore Roosevelt created the sanctuary because plume hunters were wiping out birds such as egrets. Nowadays, 15,000 birders and other nature aficionados enjoy the serene haven annually. READ FULL STORY

Water hog: Okeechobee power plant to use 9M gallons daily
week of May 12, 2016

Florida Power & Light is planning to pump a staggering 9 million gallons of water per day out of the same aquifer that supplies most of the drinking water for Indian River County to cool and generate steam at its huge proposed power plant in Okeechobee County. Indian River County gets most of its water from the upper Floridan Aquifer, using about the same amount as the power plant, 9 to 11 million gallons a day. Concerned about possible impacts on the water supply, the county enlisted the aid of St. Johns River Water Management District to ensure its water source is safe. The water district added provisions to the power company’s water-use permit at the county’s request. “You will see that we place conditions on the applicant [such as using the lowest quality source of water and ensuring withdrawals do not negatively impact others in the area]. If the request were a threat to the county’s potable water supply, the permit would not be issued,” St. Johns River Water Management District spokesman Ed Garland wrote in an email. READ FULL STORY

South Beach Property Owners group ends legal battles
week of May 12, 2016

With his term as South Beach Property Owners Association president concluded and a newly elected board of directors in place, George Lamborn has dropped the lawsuit he filed in March to prevent what he claimed was an "illegal takeover" of the organization by a dissident faction of the board. In a May 2 letter to Association members, Lamborn wrote that we was "happy to report all legal matters have ended" and he expressed hope that his successors "never have to resort to" similar measures to protect the association's integrity. The suit, which was filed in Indian River County Circuit Court, never reached the courtroom. Lamborn could not be reached for comment, but Association Treasurer Carter Taylor said the suit was dropped two weeks ago, shortly after the association held its Annual General Meeting, when it elected a new, seven-member board that is expected to grow in the coming months. None of the eight defendants named in the suit – John Burns, George Bryant, Frank Spitzmiller, Thomas Browne, Steve Merselis, David De Wahl, Victor Cooper and Robert DeWaters – sought re-election to the board. READ FULL STORY

Groups organize to clean up litter on spoil islands
week of May 12, 2016

Several local volunteers have begun organizing groups to help clean up the spoil islands in the Indian River Lagoon in response to a Vero Beach 32963 story and photographs calling attention to a litter problem. The volunteers range from a retired teacher/coach to a college freshman, and the groups include the Vero Beach Yacht Club, which already has contacted the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Spoil Island Project to inquire about adopting an island. A group of yacht club members plans to meet soon to discuss ways to contribute to the clean-up, and the club also has invited a representative from the Friends of the Spoil Islands to speak to its membership. "We saw the article in the newspaper and several of our members have brought up the possibility of helping," club spokesperson Michele Hollingworth said. "We're a small club, so we might need to join with some other group. We're exploring our options. "But the spoil islands are a natural treasure," she added, "and we're very concerned." READ FULL STORY

Two oceanfront homes sell, one doesn’t, in luxury auctions
week of May 5, 2016

Lemon Tree owner George Shinn managed to extricate himself from two oceanfront homes he no longer wanted with comparatively modest losses at a luxury auction last weekend, but the owner of the so-called “barcode lady’s house” didn’t even come close to getting the $12.9 million minimum she was seeking in a separate auction. The most high-profile property was the lavish south island estate Palazzo Di Mare, commonly known on the island as “the barcode lady’s house.” Offered at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 30 by Naples-based DeCaro Luxury Auctions, the house reportedly attracted few bidders and did not sell. But two homes offered by Concierge Auctions and represented locally by Clark French and Cindy O’Dare drew a combined 25 bidders and sold for prices much closer to asking than most other homes auctioned in Vero in the past few years. The 4-bedroom, 5-bath, 4,200- square-feet home at 980 Crescent Beach Road in Castaway Cove was listed most recently for $3,795,000. It sold for $3.3 million, including the buyer’s premium, according to French. READ FULL STORY

Hospital looks to improvements at emergency room
week of May 5, 2016

While wait times at the Emergency Room of Indian River Medical Center still are longer than both the Florida and national averages, the hospital is hoping a new approach to managing the department will soon reduce ER delays and improve performance. Hospital president and CEO Jeff Susi, chief medical officer Charles Mackett and director of emergency services Dr. Paul Giasi outlined their plans for reducing patient frustration in an interview coinciding with the hospital’s assumption of full direct responsibility for the staffing and management of the ER. Less than two years ago, the physician staffing company ApolloMD was brought in to take over from another ER contractor, Emergency Physicians of Central Florida, in a bid to address complaints about long wait times. Now, the hospital is dumping ApolloMD and taking over direct hiring of ER physicians. Figures just obtained for 2015 show there were slight improvements in average ER wait times on ApolloMD’s watch, but consultants recommended the hospital move to a directly employed physician model to increase patient satisfaction. READ FULL STORY

Back to the future for Piper: Refocus on trainers is paying off
week of May 5, 2016

It’s back to the future for Piper Aircraft, which is re-emphasizing its trainer aircraft production roots to drive increased sales of trainer airplanes to flight schools. From Vero Beach to North Dakota. flight programs are buying more and more Piper trainers to teach the next generation of aspiring pilots, especially with the commercial airline industry needing more aviators. Each year since 2011, the percentage of trainer sales out of Piper’s total aircraft sales has increased. Five years ago, trainer sales accounted for 13 percent of total sales before it increased to 16 percent in 2012, 27 percent in 2013, 33 percent in 2014 and 38 percent in 2015. That trend reflects the marketing strategy of Piper Chief Executive Simon Caldecott, who began as CEO in 2011 and made trainer sales a priority. The company’s 1937 Cub is an iconic trainer in the aviation industry.“Piper is one of the original names in pilot training. Their brand is and always has been tied heavily to training,” said Ian Twombly, editor of Pilot and Flight Training, an aviation industry trade publication. “The Piper Cub has trained thousands of pilots, and many people in aviation today look at it fondly as one of the great airplanes of all time,” Twombly said. READ FULL STORY

School Board goes to court in bid to block two charters
week of May 5, 2016

The School Board has decided to waste another $35,000 in an attempt to block Somerset Academy, an A-grade charter school organization, from opening an elementary and middle school in Indian River County. Rebuffed by the Florida Board of Education, which unanimously approved Somerset’s application, the School Board voted 3-to-2 to carry its battle to keep Somerset out of Indian River County to the Fourth District Court. No hearing date or judge has been assigned yet. Remarkably, the local School District – one of only a handful in Florida that still remains under a half-century-old court desegregation order – cited desegregation concerns in opposing Somerset before the state Board of Education. “Somerset is completely ignorant of the federal desegregation obligations in Indian River County and cannot comply with these obligations,” the School Board’s attorney Suzanne D’Agresta said in a brief sent to the State School Board of Education. But most of the 14,000 students Somerset serves in the 37 charter schools it operates in Florida are minorities, a Somerset spokesman said. READ FULL STORY

Senior living facility in Orchid saddled with many caveats
week of May 5, 2016

When the Orchid Town Council considers plans for a proposed 120-unit, upscale senior living and memory care facility next week, it comes with the very conditional blessing of the Town’s Local Planning agency, laden with nearly 50 different, and in some cases expensive, stipulations. The Orchid Local Planning Agency after a more than six-hour hearing last week voted 4-1 to recommend approval of what would be the barrier island’s first assisted-living facility, located on the Wabasso Causeway near the county fire-rescue station, just outside the gates of the Orchid Island Golf and Beach Club. According to Orchid Town Clerk Cherry Stowe, Chairman Ron Borque was the lone vote against the project, but even those who voted yea proceeded to pile on dozens and dozens of conditions that the developer must meet. According to Stowe, who was preparing the draft minutes of the April 26 meeting for the Town Council to review, “The waivers that were discussed included that the height be no taller than 30 feet with no exposed heating/air-conditioning units on top; that the setback to the Northside be a minimum of 40 feet without a walkway; that the setback along Caribe Way from the turnaround North be a minimum of 25 feet; that setback on that same side along the tennis courts from the turnaround South be a minimum of 10 feet, that the gross floor area not exceed 142,000 square feet; that opening hours be allowed to be 24/7. READ FULL STORY

State files formal felony charges against Ken Kennedy
week of May 5, 2016

State Attorney Phil Archer of the 18th Circuit in Brevard County has filed four serious felony charges against former Kennedy Groves and United Indian River Packers owner Ken Kennedy for stealing potentially more than $1 million that was intended for the care of an aging relative and, ultimately after her passing, to be divided among his dozen cousins. Kennedy, 64, was arrested on March 14 at his home in the Vero Beach Country Club neighborhood on a probable cause warrant based upon a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the depletion of the bank accounts of Kennedy’s aunt while the funds were under Kennedy’s control, court records state. The charges say Ken Kennedy “did stand in a position of trust and confidence” with regard to his aunt’s estate, and used that position to siphon off funds. Kennedy’s defense attorney Andy Metcalf at the time said the case was a matter for civil court, not criminal, and that he was confident that prosecutors would see that way, too. In late March, Kennedy entered a not guilty plea to the criminal charges and requested a jury trial. READ FULL STORY

Vero’s $22 million ‘price drop’ for Shores electric customers
week of May 5, 2016

In an almost surreal display of technical jargon and numbers in five-point type, Vero’s team of experts attempted to explain to a joint session of the city’s Finance Commission and Utilities Commission this week how the asking price for 3,000 customers in the Town of Indian River Shores dropped from $64 million to $42 million. The new “price drop” is still a far cry from the $13 million Florida Power & Light says it’s willing to pay to pick up some customers and unite the Shores’ citizens north and south of Old Winter Beach Road under one electric provider. But realistically, are any of these numbers remotely meaningful? The price Vero wants in exchange for releasing the Shores customers from the city’s electric system is based upon the notion that the Shores should provide ongoing financial support to Vero for decades to replace the revenue that Shores customers would be contributing to the system – even though they’re not being served by the utility anymore. READ FULL STORY

County gets few jobs for our economic development millions
week of April 28, 2016

The Indian River Board of County Commissioners has poured more than $7 million into its economic development program in the past decade, yet there are fewer jobs in the county now than when the program started – even though the county’s population has increased by more than 10 percent over that time. The taxpayer dollars went for inducement payments, job grants and tax abatements intended to generate job growth by luring new companies and retaining current ones, but a Vero Beach 32963 look at these economic development subsidies show the overwhelming majority of the tax money went to two deals that were controversial at best, with most of the grants raising questions about why the commission continues to throw good money after bad. Here are some of the findings from the 32963 investigation. READ FULL STORY

Contractor arrested, accused of bilking remodeling clients
week of April 28, 2016

Vero Lake Estates resident and contractor Mark Frederick Murphy is facing felony charges for allegedly bilking his remodeling clients out of big deposits, and never furnishing the materials or finishing the work paid for by two barrier island homeowners and one in southwest Vero. Murphy, 47, who state records show had been a licensed building contractor in Florida since February 2007 until his license was suspended last month, was arrested on April 12 and charged with stealing about $150,000 from three local clients, including the owners of one North Beach home just off Jungle Trail, and one South Beach home on Pelican Lane. A third victim lives in Legend Lakes in southwest Vero. Investigators suspect more victims may come forward after they learn Murphy is being held accountable. READ FULL STORY

Charter schools sue School District on divvying up funds
week of April 28, 2016

All five charter schools in Indian River County are suing the school district, alleging the district is flaunting state funding guidelines that require it to treat charter schools the same as district schools. Charter school leaders blame overcrowded conditions, class cuts and the loss of valued teachers on the district’s refusal to provide more funding for campus repairs and new buildings needed for an expanding student population. The five charters – the Charter High School, North County Charter School, St. Peter’s Academy, Sebastian Charter Junior High and Imagine School – educate 13 percent of county students but the schools receive only $295 per student in capital funding while other schools in the district get $1,546 per student, according to Gene Waddell, Charter High School board chairman. If the money was divided equally, all schools would get $1,365 per student. READ FULL STORY

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