Duval County Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti held his “Chat with the Supe” community forum, Monday evening at St. Johns Town Center Barnes & Noble.
Vitti says the chats are a chance to talk to anyone with a concern.
“It’s going to be uncensored, open-ended as long they're not individual questions about individual children or particular teachers,” Vitti said. “Hopefully people walk away from this meeting tonight with a better understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish as a school district.”
Justina David teaches first grade at New Berlin Elementary. She was concerned about the new Eureka curriculum, also sometimes called “Engage New York.” She says the lessons are highly scripted, and every day there’s a new one.
“I was pleased to hear he was supporting flexibility,” David said. “Because what I was hearing just from others at this meeting was that teachers are going at a face pace and students are falling behind.”
Parents say they’re having a hard time helping their children with Common Core math methods in the new curriculum. Vitt says he, himself has children in elementary school and understand their frustrations, but says it’s important to give the curriculum time.
Duval high school senior Libby Thompson says she’s concerned about class choice.
“Essentially I asked him if they could hire more teachers for an AP macroeconomics course, because at my school we only have one,” Thompson said.
She says taking the AP class in high school could have satisfied college credit and saved her money. But a lack of teachers kept her from signing up.
Other people had questions that were more specific to a child or teacher. A mother asked how to get her child into the GRASP Academy for kids struggling with dyslexia.
A grandmother, Adrienne Powers, says she has grandchildren with disabilities. She’s concerned the process takes too long for children to get tested for an Individual Education Program.
“I’m mad,” Powers said. “I had a grandchild kicked out today. She’s suspended because of behavior stuff.”
Vitti said he would follow-up about individual cases at another time.
Vitti will be hosting 10 more “Chats with the Supe” at different locations through January. The next is set for October 21 at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church downtown.