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Duval County School Board Talks Accountability

Cyd Hoskinson


As the Duval County School Board makes final tweaks to the 2016-2017 budget, board members are already talking about changes they’d like to see in the following year.



The Board is looking into analyzing the programs it funds to better determine what is working.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said the district cut contracts and positions a few years ago, but hasn’t made any drastic drops since.

“I agree with the board it is time to reevaluate some of the new initiatives that were considered new three years ago and recalibrate based on an adjusted and revised strategic plan,” Vitti said.

He said changes in state standards and assessments over the last three years has made it difficult to make an "apples-to-apples" comparison with available data. But the district will have two consecutive years of similar data to analyze as soon as this summer for the 2017-2018 budget.

The goal of abandoning non-working programs came at board member Paula Wright’s request Thursday. She said she’d like to see a study of the district’s programs, even non-academic ones.

“What programs — outside of the classroom; outside of the curriculum — that's helping students to achieve: so mentoring; assessments beyond the school day; Saturday school. Those types of programs,” she said.

Board member Ashley Smith Juarez suggested the board abandon two of the district’s Alternative to Out of School Suspension centers at Thursday’s meeting.

Last week the city’s crime-stopping task force, the Jax Journey, voted to recommend the city cut funding for the centers. Now the district will have to pay about $100,000 more to keep four of the centers afloat.

The centers are places students are referred to instead of out-of-school suspension, but as the district utilizes more in-school suspensions, fewer kids are going to ATOSS.

In Thursday’s meeting she said she couldn’t justify the district funding three of the four centers, when last school year there were 54 days when no students were assigned to ATOSS.

Superintendent Vitti said he’s against cutting two of the centers. He said the Code of Conduct task force is recommending the board use more ATOSS assignments next school year and he believes there needs to be centers in more than just two areas of town.

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.