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Duval School Board Announces More Choices For Students

Allie George / WJCT News
Nikolai Vitti addresses stakeholders regarding Duval County schools' planned changes

Duval County parents and students will have more choices starting this fall.

The Duval County School Board introduced several new principals who will be at the helm of 14 schools that have been repurposed to fit the needs of the modern student, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said.

“Today’s parent is a consumer, and we are living in a landscape of extreme choice,” he said. “We know that if we don’t offer parents what they want, and what their children need to be successful academically and socially, they will not go to traditional public schools.”

Credit Allie George / WJCT News
Posters summarize program changes for 14 Duval County schools

  Among the changes: Oak Hill Academy will become an autism-focused elementary school; A. Philip Randolph will increase its vocational training; and Andrew Jackson High School will be a magnet school for a number of information technology- and sports-related programs.

Andrew Jackson Principal Evan Daniels said the changes came from student input.

“I think the most exciting thing about the transition is the opportunity for our students within the greater Jacksonville community to have additional choices and opportunities,” Daniels said. “There’s definitely a desire for it from our students. I think it’s very important that we listen to our students voices and this is what they’ve wanted.”

Vitti added the programs are not meant to eliminate the schools, but to bring students back in who might otherwise leave. Vitti had said these schools were low performing and underutilized.

“They have walked out of these schools and gone to other schools. And we continue to rely on a perception, on a vision, on a myth of neighborhood schools,” he said. “We still believe in neighborhood schools, we still want neighborhood schools, but we have to be realistic that parents have opted out.”

The new programs are still enrolling students to matriculate this fall.