A school lottery system that began decades ago as an attempt to integrate Coral Gables schools may soon be abolished in favor of regular attendance boundaries after a preliminary vote Wednesday by the Miami-Dade County School Board.
Under the proposal, the impact of the changes would be studied after two years, when the board would vote whether to make them permanent.
“I believe it is a fair, adequate and balanced approach,” said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
The issue revolves around a system called controlled choice. Under the system, parents have to enter a lottery to be assigned a school. Coral Gables is the last place in Miami-Dade where this lottery system is still in place.
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Coral Gables leaders and some parents asked the school district to eliminate the controlled choice in favor of regular attendance boundaries. Parents say the lottery is stressful, and their children should be able to attend the schools closest to their homes.
But the request to do away with controlled choice was met with resistance by parents whose children would fall under the boundaries of George Washington Carver Elementary, which some resident consider inferior to the other schools in the lottery system, Sunset Elementary and Coral Gables Preparatory Academy.
The debate brought up issues of race, because Carver happens to be the most diverse school of the three, and because the lottery was started as a way to integrate schools.
The proposal approved Wednesday, which needs to pass a second board vote, reaches a compromise when it comes to attendance into Sunset’s highly sought-after magnet program.
In other action, the board moved to:
▪ Continue negotiations with the City of Coral Gables, University of Miami and Baptist Health South Florida to expand Henry S. West Laboratory elementary school, commonly known as West Lab, into a center for grades kindergarten through eighth.
▪ Moved forward with negotiations to build a new school in Doral.
▪ Agreed to explore ways to expand school options in the Brickell area of downtown Miami.
In addition, a call for a teacher protest at the board meeting fizzled. Last week, emails circulated promoting a rally against what some teachers called pressure from higher-ups for speaking publicly about classroom issues. A handful of people showed up, but they mainly complained about overcrowded classrooms.