Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday June 11: Delay MAST Academy Expansion Decision

By Sylvia Gurinsky

With the school year just ended, students and families looking forward to a relaxing summer don't need any surprises. Many at MAST Academy seem to be getting one.

The Marittime and Science Technology Academy is located in the former Planet Ocean site on Virginia Key. It has been a magnet school, with its students selected by a lottery.

But students living in Key Biscayne need their own high school. There is little space on the island for one. Students have been going to Coral Gables High School, Booker T. Washington High School and other local schools.

The school district is pondering whether to approve a major facility expansion on the land that includes MAST. The expansion would provide a high school for Key Biscayne residents and relief for the existing K-8 center.

The argument made against it by many in the MAST community is that having a regular school would undermine the unique nature of their school. Those who support the project point to other schools that have included successful magnet programs.

This is too important a project for either the school board or the Village of Key Biscayne to rush to a decision on. Perhaps a compromise can be worked out. Or perhaps another site, such as the soon-to-be vacated Miami Science Museum buildings on South Miami Avenue, can be put into the picture - particularly now that the MAST program has expanded beyond the original campus.

All the students involved - from MAST and from Key Biscayne -  are worth the patience needed on this matter.

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