Apr 24, 2024 - News

Miami-Dade district eyes boundary changes, repurposing schools

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Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is proposing boundary changes for 11 schools — three of which will be repurposed — for the 2024–25 school year, a move that's expected to affect around 250 students.

Why it matters: While boundary changes are common, it's rare for the district to propose repurposing schools.

  • Parkview and Shadowlawn elementaries and Myrtle Grove K–8 will be "reimagined," officials said.

The big picture: The proposed changes, presented last week to the school board, are part of an annual evaluation to determine how schools are being utilized, address enrollment concerns and meet state requirements.

  • Factors considered include enrollment declines, class size mandates, construction of new residential developments and schools, and reducing or eliminating racial isolation, among others.

By the numbers: Six schools in the north region, three in the central region and two in the south region are slated for changes.

Zoom in: A portion of North Twin Lakes Elementary School will be assigned to Twin Lakes to increase enrollment at the latter.

  • Parkview Elementary will convert to a specialized exceptional student education (ESE) and full-service resource center for the north region. Families assigned to the school will be reassigned to Crestview and Scott Lake elementaries.
  • Myrtle Grove K–8 Center will become a K–5 elementary, moving future sixth- and eighth-grade students to Carol City Middle.
  • Shadowlawn Elementary will become an ESE center. Students previously designated for the school will be reassigned to Toussaint L'Ouverture and Eneida M. Hartner elementary schools.
  • Boundaries for Calusa Elementary and Claude Pepper will shift to redirect a portion of students to the latter.

Zoom out: Other Florida districts are considering plans to either close or reconfigure schools as districts across the state grapple with decreasing enrollment and what officials say are insufficient budget allocations.

  • Broward County Public Schools announced it would likely close five schools by the 2025–26 school year, according to WLRN.

Friction point: Community members have raised concerns about the changes and argued the timeline is too rushed, with some pointing to Broward County's one-year transition timeline.

  • Miami-Dade district officials stressed there was community input, including at public meetings. Residents were also able to present recommendations to the Attendance Boundary Committee.

What they're saying: In February, parents from Parkview submitted an appeal, proposing that no changes be made to the school's boundary and the district repurpose any available space to an ESE service center.

  • In a separate appeal, Shadowlawn parents recommended the district increase enrollment by absorbing all pre-K students from neighboring schools and expanding Shadowlawn to be a multipurpose facility and regional hub.

The other side: "Of course there was some hesitation," Central Region Superintendent Michael Lewis told board members last week during the proposal presentation. But "for the most part, [they are] relieved about what is being proposed."

Between the lines: Board member Luisa Santos said enrollment trends on their own may not show the full picture and said she hopes future discussions around school changes are based on more data than is currently used.

What's next: The district will hold community meetings with the affected schools. The board is expected to discuss the final changes in June.

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