Sibling preference rally set for 4:30 p.m.

Tania Martin, Staff Writer

Students and parents interested in preserving the sibiling preference clause in choice schools can attend a rally being held at 4:30 p.m. today, right outside the school board offices in Viera. The rally will precede a regularly scheduled board meeting where the issue will be discussed.

According Amy Moore, the mother of junior Jack Moore and one of the rally’s organizers, no decisions have been made regarding the issue, but it’s possible that it could go before the school board for to a vote by as early as October.

The sibling preference clause was established in 1998, enabling younger siblings to attend the same choice school, including West Shore Jr./Sr. High, Edgewood Jr./Sr. High, Freedom 7 Elementary School of International Studies, West Melbourne Elementary School for Science and Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School of the Arts, as their older sibling, given that they meet academic requirements.

Supporters and detractors of the clause have voiced their opinions in an online at the school board web site.

Junior Stephanie Everest has a brother in seventh grade this year.

“My mom went on the web site to vote in favor of the sibling clause,” she said. “Last year our family got worried when we heard Ben might not get in.”

Some say that dissolving the plan will cause only problems not only for the students, but families as a whole.

One enraged anonymous voter on the online message board said: “Had there not been a sibling preference it would have caused a hardship on my family to have my children in separate schools. They would not have been able to participate in extracurricular activities because of transportation issues. Neither would they have had the support of each other during the school day.  I do not understand why anyone would want to eliminate the opportunity for siblings to attend the same school. In my opinion, if you remove that option from schools of choice in the county, you are discriminating against students at those schools. Other public schools in Brevard allow siblings to attend the same school. Why not schools of choice?”

On the other side of the issue, though, parents outside of the choice school range say that getting rid of the preference clause will give students who do not have a sibling enrolled in the same school an equal chance of getting into the school as evidenced by the following message board comment.

“Despite complaints and false predictions of dramatic decreases in applicants for choice schools if sibling preference is taken away, that simply isn’t true. These 5 choice schools are in such high demand and there are so many high achieving and gifted students in the county that there will still be a surplus of applicants applying for the lotteries. It’s a shame that with all the middle/high schools in Brevard there are only 2 of them that are choice. At least consider eliminating sibling preference at Edgewood and West Shore or add several more choice middle/high schools to accommodate the bright & gifted students of our county that would otherwise feel their talents wasted in the regular public and private schools of Brevard.”