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Duval School Board Takes Step Toward Districtwide Tech Upgrades

Brad Flickinger / Flickr

In a move toward another big change in the district, the school board took the first step toward a multi-million dollar effort to boot up technology in schools across the district this week.

Board members approved a resolution to issue a federal, no-interest bond to complete hardware upgrades at 41 high-need schools; and improve the district’s lacking technological infrastructure.

The bond known as a Qualified Zone Academy Bond are issued to schools where at least 35 percent of the population qualify for free and reduced lunch.  

Superintendent Vitti proposed the bond earlier this year which will be used toward a series of technology upgrades, including high density wireless districtwide, classroom media carts, teacher laptops and a computer for each student or every two students in 41 one of the district’s highest need schools. Thirty-six of those schools make up the three feeder patterns — Raines, Ribault and Jackson — where a series of other privately-funded programs have been launched under Quality Education for Allinitiative.

The application will go before the Florida Department of Education for approval. The bonds are issued on a first come, first serve basis, School Board Chairwoman Becki Couch said.  

At the beginning of 2013, the district was granted another such bond to begin work to revamp its technology systems. They received a $29 million bond which went toward completing hardware upgrades in 17 of the 41 targeted schools. This time, the district is seeking a $50 million bond.

Each bond requires a match of 10 percent or more from the district or its partners. The resolution, which includes a lengthy list of assurances, states that the district will have written commitments from “private entity match partners” to provide the necessary contributions which can include both cash and in-kind donations.

According to Vitti, about $8 million has been raised by private donors — $3 million from private businesses and $5 million from the pool of donors who make up the board of Quality Education for All.

Here is a look at the details and dates of the district’s technology plan.


You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.

Rhema Thompson began her post at WJCT on a very cold day in January 2014 and left WJCT to join the team at The Florida Times Union in December 2014.