Published: Nov 23, 2011 4:34 AM EST

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Lee County school board has approved a change to the district's school choice program, which could affect where thousands of children go to school.

The decision will make it easier for some students to go to a school closer to their homes, while still giving other families options for other choices.

"I think it's a good compromise for the moment," said superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke.

The board approved the overhaul of the school choice program on a 4-0 vote.

Until now, only students who lived within two miles of a school received higher priority to attend classes closer to home. The new plan opens up that priority radius to five miles.

Parents have been largely split on choosing schools versus neighborhood schools. Board members say the school choice changes answered concerns on both sides.

"Just in my own informal surveys, parents want choice, and they also want their kids close to home or close to their jobs," said school board chair Mary Fischer.

Fischer says parents still get to rate their top choices, and can pick based on location or a certain school's programs.

The added benefit for the district is a potential savings in transportation costs.

"We will actually be able to reduce both the number of buses and the length of the bus rides," Burke said.

Now the district must wait to see if more parents decide to take advantage of schools closer to home.

"The question is really going to be, what choices are they going to make," Burke said.

The district plans to conduct a survey to student which school choices parents are making.