As Brickell charter school fight goes on, vote on another near
By Jacquelyn Weiner
While the fight for a Brickell-area charter school works its way through the courts, another Mater Academy plan for a smaller K-5 site in Coconut Grove is to be up for vote June 9 by the City of Miami Commission.
Mater Grove at the Boys & Girls Club would serve about 200 students in existing space at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade's Hank Kline Club, 2805 SW 32nd Ave. in Coconut Grove.
The idea is to have students transition from school hours to the Boys & Girls Clubs' after-school programs, said Alex Rodriguez-Roig, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade.
The charter school will "have them with us pretty much all day long," he said. "I think our impact will be greater on these kids because of that."
The Boys & Girls Clubs' aim is to enable youth to reach their full potential.
Commissioners are to vote on plans for the facility as a zoning exception allowing for a school in an area zoned "Civic Institution."
The City of Miami Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board approved the exception in April.
If OK'd, the addition of a charter school at the Boys & Girls Clubs facility would fill existing classroom space. No major additional construction would be needed.
Opened in January 2010, the two-story, 8,000-square-foot Alex Rodriguez Educational Center houses seven large rooms that sit empty until the Boys and Girls Clubs' after-school activities begin after 2 p.m., Mr. Rodriguez-Roig said.
The educational center cost $1.5 million to build. Looking to maximize its use, Mr. Rodriguez-Roig said, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade's board decided a school would be a good fit and sought proposals.
After going through candidates to run the school, the board decided on Mater Academy in March, Mr. Rodriguez-Roig said.
Mater Academy has been in the charter-school business 13 years and is to run Mater Grove if plans gel. About 7,000 students in Miami-Dade County attend its schools.
The plan is to open Mater Grove school by August, said Antonio L. Roca, president of Mater Academy Inc.
Enrollment would be first come, first served, he said, and could include up to 240 students.
While just seven rooms are open for use, "they're not your traditional 20-seat classrooms and can actually be divided," he said. "It lends itself very easily to a co-teaching model."
Under that model, two teachers with 18 students each would be in a room, he said, potentially separated by a room divider.
To curb neighbors' concerns over traffic, Mr. Roca said, Mater plans to add a circular drop-off drive on Southwest 31st Avenue, avoiding traffic jams on Southwest 32nd Avenue.
Other features of the facility include a new outdoor basketball court, baseball fields and an indoor gymnasium.
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