4-1 vote preserves sibling preference

Tania Martin, Staff Writer

The Brevard School Board voted to keep the sibling preference clause in place for schools of choice — including West Shore — on Tuesday, continuing a policy that allows the younger brothers and sisters of currently enrolled students to bypass the lottery selection provided they meet academic requirements.

Opponents argued the clause is unfair because it limits the chances of applicants winning the lottery. Current one in five students who apply to West Shore have their numbers drawn.

“I think all children applying to a school of choice should be accepted based on their individual merit and not because of a sibling,” an anonymous commenter on the Brevard Public Schools online message board said.  “It may not be a fit for all members of a family — it is a school of choice and just that. Take that into consideration when you apply to that type of school and plan accordingly. There should be no sibling preference!”

Amy Moore, the mother of junior Jack Moore, helped lead the campaign to keep the clause in place.

“Splitting up families, when it can be avoided, is wrong,” she said.  “In my opinion, eliminating sibling preference would have been disastrous for choice schools. It would have certainly eroded the cohesive environment that all schools have strived so hard to achieve and would have quite possibly done damage to a successful model that relies heavily on parental volunteering and family involvement.  Eliminating sibling preference would not have solved the problem.  There are hundreds of students on waiting lists and, therefore, hundreds of unhappy parents.  Instead of dismantling these nationally ranked schools, the school board should be trying to replicate them.”

Assistant Principal Jim Melia said he was please with the vote.

“My belief is that if things aren’t broken, it doesn’t need fixing,” he said. “The sibling preference makes things work for families and the impact of siblings being together is clearly seen through the success of students. I’ve seen students excel that wouldn’t have been able to stay at West Shore if their younger student wouldn’t have been able to attend. I’m a big believer in families.”