School board votes unanimously on MAST expansion
MIAMI (WSVN) -- The Miami-Dade school district has given the green light for a school expansion plan to proceed, despite protests from dozens of parents.
On Wednesday, the school board voted unanimously on the plan to expand MAST Academy, a magnet school that demands high standards of its students.
The vote means that Key Biscayne will now have its first-ever high school, but it will share a campus with MAST.
Residents of Key Biscayne said, because they live there, they believe their children should have the right to attend class at the school while the families of students who already attend MAST Academy protested the proposed plan and said prospective students should meet the criteria and come out of the lottery system, just like everyone else.
During the meeting, Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said MAST Academy will remain the same, but when the new high school opens, in about seven weeks, preference will be given to Key Biscayne residents. "There will be other academies that will reflect non-competing thematic interests," Carvalho said. "Those will be created under one single umbrella, and the one principal."
The City of Key Biscayne has come up with about $23 million to help fund this project. "Our people are past frustration, we've been under-served for years," said Key Biscayne mayor Frank Caplan. "We need major improvements in our K-8 center, which is our only public school. It is badly over-crowded. It's had deferred maintenance for a very long time, and it hasn't received the capital improvements required for a 60-year-old facility."
Since Key Biscayne residents are footing the majority of the bill, Key Biscayne students who meet the academic criteria will get the first spots available at the school. Any remaining spots will be open to other students around the county.
MAST parents like Emanuel Petrakis were upset with the vote, since they believe the district is taking a risk by messing with a prized school. "You have the top-rated school in the county, and they're making changes. I don't think that's the way to go about doing it," he said.
MAST Student Ashley Waiters said, "We go out of our way. I drive 30, 40 minutes to school because it's such an excellent school. It's supposed to be one of the best schools, and because of where you live, you automatically get that? I don't think that's right."
Eighth- and ninth-grade classes in the new school will begin in the next few weeks.
The new school should be completed by 2015.
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)