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School Board Approves New MAST Proposal

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MAST Academy

MAST Academy

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Conflict gave way to compromise at a Miami-Dade school board meeting Wednesday. The board discussed a controversial plan to expand ultra-selective MAST academy to Key Biscayne students.

The proposal passed, but with significant changes from the last time the board discussed the issue last month.

The latest proposal, brokered by Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, creates a school within a school. Under the plan the prestigious Maritime, Science and Technology magnet school would retain its district wide lottery for students who meet their rigorous entrance requirements.

However, the campus would add two new academies with 1,100 seats and give Key Biscayne residents priority for those. The proposal also states that once the expansion is complete the Maritime Science portion of the school ould be renamed MAST Academy at Virginia Key High School.

“You can never reach a compromise with 100 percent of the people being happy but I think we had 99 percent,” said Raquel Regalado, the school board member who represents Key Biscayne.

Some MAST students might disagree.

Avalon Hoek Spaans will be a senior at MAST in the fall, “We’re totally against this deal we don’t agree with this proposal whatsoever,” she said.

But most parents say this plan is an improvement over the initial proposal.

“It’s much better but it’s still going to harm MAST Academy,” said Sean Schwinghammer one of the most vocal critics of the expansion.

Under the original plan, the academy wouldd have been tripled in size and Key Biscayne students would have been given priority for the 1,100 new middle and high school seats without having to go through a lottery selection.

Critics of the original deal said it contradicted the magnet school’s original and that Key Biscayne residents were trying to buy seats to one of the top schools in the nation.

After attending meetings with board members, Schwinghammer described himself as “disappointed,” that the MAST campus has to undergo changes, but conceded, “Key Biscayne deserves a school and we’ve outreached. We’re the ones who came up with all the compromises and we think they’re the best for everyone.”

Key Biscayne, which has been in desperate need of a local high school, has pledged $18 million worth of financing, including a contribution of $9 million toward construction.

“Our children deserve to have a high school close to home so they can grow up with their friends their family and their community,” said Allison Eng-Perez who lives on Key Biscayne.

Key Biscayne resident Justin Jones added, “I think everything is going to work out fine in the end I think it’s very good for everyone.”

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