Plans involving the closure of up to three schools and the setting up of an academy have been approved.
The plans involve the closure of Lochinvar School
Cumbria County Council reviewed education across the county in response to falling pupil rolls.
Plans for secondary schools around Carlisle are the furthest forward and Cabinet has now decided on its option.
It means closing Longtown's Lochinvar School, and an academy based on the St Aidan's High School site and closing North Cumbria Technology College.
The council said it has to deal with the issue of falling pupil numbers.
In the Carlisle area, the surplus in secondary schools at the moment is 1,515, which is expected to rise to 2,940 by 2015 if no changes are made.
Across Cumbria, the surplus is currently 5,051, which is expected to rise to 11,266 by 2015 is nothing is done.
In Carlisle, secondary schools are also getting £30m from the government following the floods which hit the city in January last year.
A public consultation was held over the summer, which involved a set of options for schools in the Carlisle area being sent to parents, guardians and interested organisations.
Steps will now be taken to move the rest of the plans forward and establish the academy, which needs private sponsorship.
Council cabinet member for children's services councillor Philip Chapplehow said: "This is the beginning of a major change process that is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape secondary education in Carlisle.
"The next steps will be to ensure that all these changes are undertaken with the minimum amount of disruption and that the transition is as smooth as possible."