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September School Board Recap -Overseeing referendum dollars; Northwestern Middle management

Updated: Sep 11, 2019

Duval County Public School Board (left to right) Cheryl Grymes, District 1; Elizabeth Andersen, District 2; Ashley Smith Juarez, District 3; Darryl Willie, District 4; Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene; Warren Jones, Vice Chairman, District 5; Charlotte Joyce, District 6; Lori Hershey, Board Chairman, District 7.

Sept. 10, 2019 - Highlights of the recent September Board meeting include the Board's approval of a committee that will oversee how referendum dollars are spent; a contract with a new company that will serve Northwestern Middle; and an expanded set of learning and professional development opportunities for educators.

Establishing a committee of citizens who will oversee how half-penny funding is spent - While the Jacksonville City Council has not approved the district’s half-cent sales tax referendum to go to the voters, the School Board continues to seek a path toward a referendum in 2020. In Monday’s meeting, it approved Board Policy 9.66, which will govern how the “Sales Surtax Oversight Committee” will work. This committee is made up of community leaders and residents not affiliated with the school district and will oversee how money from a potential half-cent sale tax is spent. Highlights of the new policy include:

  • Responsibilities – The committee will review and monitor the district’s progress, assist in informing the community of the projects, and make recommendations on the use of any surplus funding or unspent project allocations.

  • Membership – The committee will be made up of 22 voting members and two non-voting members. The voting members will be the Chairman/President/CEO of various civic and community organizations including Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce; Northeast Florida Builders Association; Northeast Florida Association of Realtors; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Jacksonville NAACP; Jacksonville Public Education Fund; Jacksonville Civic Council; Duval Teachers United; and Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police.

  • Conflict of interest – Members shall not have any direct or indirect conflict of interest in contract with the school district or a financial interest in any of the projects funded over the sales surtax.

  • Duration – The committee shall exist through the duration of time it takes to complete all of the projects funded by the sales surtax.

New company to manage Northwestern Middle – A hallmark of Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene’s vision for the school district is to move it to an A district and eliminate all D and F schools. Less than one percentage point from an A, and with 11 more A schools than last year, the school district is moving in the right direction. This includes solutions for D and F schools. One of these schools is Northwestern Middle. By the 2017-18 school year, both Northwestern Middle and Lake Forest Elementary were in a special category because they had both earned failing grades in consecutive years. The district selected external management organization, Educational Directions to operate the school during the 2018-19 school year. While Northwestern demonstrated growth in some areas last year, its grade remained a D. Therefore, a new external operator was needed for the 2019-20 school year, and it will close at the conclusion of this school year. During Monday’s meeting, the Board approved a contract – not to exceed $330,000 – with Educational Management Consulting Services (EMCS) to become Northwestern Middle School’s new external operator service provider. EMCS will provide support to the school’s remaining seventh and eighth graders during Northwestern’s last year. The customized, student-specific instruction will help students transition from Northwestern into a higher performing middle or high school in the 2020-21 school year. More professional development courses for teachers – Investing in the professional development and growth of employees is key to any school district’s continuous improvement. For Duval County Public Schools, it is one of our key strategies for recruiting and retaining top-notch educators and achieving the school district’s mission. The Professional Learning Catalog – which is updated each year – provides descriptions of the professional development courses available for educators. This year’s catalog includes an expanded list of courses, several which focus on teaching students who are learning English as a second language, teaching students with special needs, and teaching students in accelerated programs. Some examples of the subject areas of new courses include:

  • Deaf and hard of hearing students.

  • Cross cultural communication (connecting culture and academics).

  • Applied linguistics.

  • Teaching students with disabilities in fine arts.

  • Reading difficulties, disabilities and Dyslexia.

In addition to providing professional development opportunities, several courses offered in the catalog will help support educators who are teaching out of field to meet their requirements.

The entire September School Board agenda is available to review here.


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