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Residents, School Officials Square Off Over Gables School Expansion

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CORAL GABLES (CBS4) – Somerset Academy is a new charter school in Coral Gables. Now, 110 students attend school here for kindergarten through second grade. But come next year, the school wants to operate as a K-8 with about 600 more students.

“Quality of education is one of the most important things to me as a parent and having this amazing opportunity five blocks away from our house is really, really critical,” said parent Jennifer Johnson.

But not everyone is happy. Wednesday night, the city organized a special meeting about the expansion. So many people showed up, people stood outside the auditorium.

Those who oppose the plan say the biggest concern is more traffic.

“I’m a Kindergarten teacher. Parents stay,” said resident Sylvia McCabe.

McCabe says parents don’t just come and go. She finds the traffic plans unrealistic.

“What’s being shown is not exactly what happens in schools,” said McCabe.

The traffic analysis suggests the school and area can accommodate 735 students. The school’s principal, Suzette Ruiz, told CBS4 News the plan will work.

“The traffic can go in different directions. The idea is that it comes in from different places so that it doesn’t accumulate on one street,” said Ruiz.

Even so, some residents are not convinced.

“Parents are going to park just about everywhere, causing a chaos and traffic in the area, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid,” said resident Carolina Perrina.

“Yes there are many concerns, however for those families who are in Coral Gables, who have children, we need more options,” said parent Mara Rodriguez-Mena.

The next meeting on the matter is scheduled for May 11th.

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