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Superintendent Vitti Talks Spending Rollover Money

Duval County Public Schools

The Duval County School Board and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti discussed the upcoming school year’s budget Thursday.

There’s a $9.5 million surplus rolling over from last year. Vitti says a big portion of the extra money is due to salary lapses at a school-level. He says the district normally has leftover funds.

Vitti wants to use most of last year’s unspent money to hire more reading interventionists. A reading interventionist is an extra teacher who works with kids in small groups who are often behind grade level.

The 28 elementary schools in the Raines-Ribault feeder pattern already use reading interventionists, as they are historically among the county’s lowest performing.

Vitti says the funds would expand the program to nine additional elementary schools as well as some middle and high schools.

He also says it’s especially important for children to get the extra help early, in kindergarten, first and second grade.

But school board member Connie Hall says a better use of the money might be to spend it on focused teacher training and development. She says continued training is often the missing piece.

Vitti also proposed spending $300,000 to fund an additional hour in the school day for Hyde Grove and Pinedale elementary. Where he says their principals have asked for the extra time.

The majority of the board members, however, say they’d rather use the money to benefit more schools. Becki Couch was one who raised concerns.

She asked Vitti, “Why would we add an extra hour if we as a school board took a stance against it?”

The school board should vote on a preliminary spending plan at the end of the month.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.