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Press Release - DCPS to Welcome 14 New Schools and Programs for Opening of School

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Laureen Ricks
               904.390.2211

DCPS TO WELCOME 14 NEW SCHOOLS AND PROGRAMS FOR OPENING OF SCHOOL 
New Programs to Include Gifted and Talented, Video Gaming, Early Learning Centers, Vocational,
Sports Marketing, Military Leadership, and Arts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., July 26, 2016 – Whether it is establishing a new early learning center for our youngest students or strengthening our local military ties through a high school leadership academy, there are many new and exciting options for Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) students starting this school year. Fourteen new schools and programs will be implemented with the opening of school to strengthen choice options for students and parents so the district can remain competitive in a landscape full of educational choices.
 

The changes, which were initiated by Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti last year, and approved by the School Board this past spring, include one high school’s conversion to a military leadership academy; two elementary schools being converted into Gifted and Talented magnet schools; the creation of an Autism Lab school; the establishment of one dedicated high school magnet school for video gaming, cybersecurity, and sports medicine, marketing, and broadcasting; and another high school for Advanced Studies, International Studies and Leadership through the International Baccaluerate (IB) program; three Early Learning Centers serving children ages three through second grade and Pre-K through third grade; and a dedicated arts magnet middle school with an IB focus. Although not requiring a vote from the School Board, A. Philip Randolph was redesigned to reintroduce vocational programming to the community through welding, plumbing, carpentry, electrical, and A/C repair.
 

“The district was facing serious challenges with lower enrollment, continual low performance concentrated within particular schools, low residence rates, and parents leaving schools due to negative perceptions. We had to address these challenges head on and did just that last year. These changes are about ensuring the district’s ability to remain competitive and sustainable in an educational environment of extreme choice. Our parents and their children are active consumers who want unique and strong programming. Ensuring excellent teaching and learning in every classroom alone will not ensure higher levels of enrollment,” Dr. Vitti said. “From as young as three years old to preparation for college or specialized employment, the new schools and programs will enable the district to recruit students back to traditional feeder neighborhoods and from outside of those feeders as well.” 

The school and program change process began in July 2015 when Dr. Vitti shared with the School Board initial recommendations for changes to address lower-performing and under-utilized schools. The goal was to offer parents a stronger selection of educational options to attract and retain students in traditional public schools. These recommendations were later vetted through community working groups at each school, who were tasked with holding meetings to listen to community stakeholders, voice opinions and consider alternatives. Upon completion of this process, the working groups were asked to either accept, modify, or reject the superintendent’s recommendations and provide alternative solutions to counter lower performance or declining enrollment. The superintendent utilized the working group recommendations to develop final proposals to the Board for a vote. Each proposal was voted upon and approved by the School Board.

Board-approved school and program changes for 2016-2017 include:
  • Andrew Jackson High School 
    • Challenges: School has lost more than 730 students to charter schools, magnet schools, home education, McKay, and other options; Graduation rate is second lowest in the district. 
    • Change: Conversion to a dedicated magnet for Video Gaming, Cybersecurity, Information Technology, Sports Medicine, Sports Marketing, and Sports Broadcasting; Each program will be connected to a dual enrollment opportunity. 
        • Rationale: Information Technology will offer multiple pathways tied to dual enrollment and district internships; Will create a destination/flagship program in the urban core; Builds off support and momentum at Kirby-Smith Middle School with continuity to Andrew Jackson through video gaming.

  • Ed White High School
    • Challenge: School has lost more than 1,500 students in boundary to charter schools, magnet schools, home education, McKay, and other options; Ranks lowest among all high schools for graduation rate.
    • Change: Conversion to a 9-12 military leadership magnet academy beginning with 2016-2017 ninth-grade class. 
        • Rationale: Builds off support, momentum and enthusiasm for military leadership program at Joseph Stilwell Military Academy of Leadership; Leverages military presence in Jacksonville.

  • Fort Caroline Middle School
    • Challenge: School has lost more than 660 students in boundary to charter schools, magnet schools, home education, special transfer, and other choice options; Utilization approximately 49 percent; School has earned two “D’s” and two “F’s” in past five years.
    • Change: Conversion to a dedicated International Baccalaureate (IB), and Visual and Performing Arts magnet.
      • Rationale: Strengthens middle school program options for parents and students districtwide; Expands programming in Arlington area.

  • Hyde Park/Hyde Grove Elementary Schools
    • Challenge: Hyde Grove has lost more than 270 students in the boundary to charter schools, magnet schools, home education, special transfers, and other options; Utilization approximately 66 percent; Hyde Park has lost more than 341 students in the boundary to other school options; Utilization is 71 percent; Hyde Park received an “F” in 2014 and a “D” for the year prior to that with a “D” for 2015; Hyde Grove received an “F” the previous two years and a “D” the year prior to that with an “F” for 2015. 
    • Change: Hyde Grove converted to an Early Learning Center for ages 3 through second grade; Hyde Park converted to grades 3-6 school; Extended day programs at both schools.
      • Rationale: Strategy focuses on early learning to ensure students are on grade level by third grade, including Pre-K and Head Start programming; Streamlines district costs while offering more strategic investment for challenging situation and incorporates partners for arts integration and reading intervention. 

  • John Love Elementary School
    • Challenge: School has lost more than 110 students in boundary to charter schools, magnet schools, home education, special transfer, and other choice options; Utilization approximately 72 percent; School has earned “D” or an “F” for five of the past six years.
    • Change: Conversion to grades Pre-K – 2 school.
      • Rationale: Increase utilization at John Love to 99 percent with Voluntary Pre-K classes; Deepens investment and commitment to early learning; Offers an opportunity to avoid state sanctions.

  • Long Branch Elementary School
    • Challenge: School has lost more than 100 students in the boundary to charter schools, magnet schools, special transfer, and other choice options; Utilization approximately 54 percent; School has received “D” or “F” grade for 11 of the past 17 years. 
    • Change: Conversion to grades 3-6 school.
      • Rationale: Current fifth-graders at Long Branch, John Love, and Richard Lewis Brown have option to attend Long Branch or their neighborhood middle school; Increases utilization from 54 percent to 65 percent; Allows Long Branch to focus on assessment grades.

  • Oak Hill Academy
    • Challenges: School has lost more than 310 students to charter schools, magnet schools, home education, and/or special transfer instead; Utilization approximately 61 percent; School has received an “F” for two years in a row and a “D” for the two years prior to that with an “F” for 2015. 
    • Change: Conversion to a Pre-K – 5 school for students with Autism and Related Disabilities.
      • Rationale: Preserves school building as tax-payer real estate; Enhances unique programming on the westside while offering parents of children with Autism more options to meet their child’s individual needs.

  • Richard Lewis Brown Elementary School
    • Challenge: School has lost more than 130 students in boundary to charter schools, magnet schools, special transfer, and other options; School received a “D” or “F” for five of the past six years; Utilization approximately 48 percent. 
    • Change: Conversion to a dedicated magnet for Gifted and Talented with IB focus. 
      • Rationale: Stems charter interest in the Springfield area with the conversion to dedicated magnet for Gifted and Talented; Offers long-term strategy to increase enrollment and utilization.

  • R.V. Daniels Elementary School 
    • Challenge: With the approval of Richard Lewis Brown’s conversion into a Gifted and Talented magnet, community stakeholders concerned student population would be drawn away from R.V. Daniels/Susie E. Tolbert; Additionally, increased demand present from parents and community members for more elementary school magnets; As the only dedicated Gifted and Talented elementary school in the district in current operation, Jacksonville Beach Elementary averages a waitlist of more than 400 applications each year; This presents potential for parents to opt for private, homeschool, and charter school options, or select schools in adjacent counties. 
    • Change: Conversion to a grades K-5 Gifted and Talented magnet school. 
        • Rationale: Currently utilized at 75 percent, the conversion positions R.V. Daniels to be near 100 percent capacity; Ensures long-term sustainability of school in context of countywide challenge of low building utilization and flat to declining enrollment due to increased competition and low residency rates; Provides community members third option for Gifted and Talented magnet school.

  • Susie E. Tolbert Elementary School
    • Challenge: With the approval of Richard Lewis Brown’s conversion into a Gifted and Talented magnet, community stakeholders concerned student population would be drawn away from R.V. Daniels/Susie E. Tolbert; Campus has 60 percent utilization. 
    • Change: Conversion to a grades 3-6 school; Boundary modified to include grades 3-5 students from S.P. Livingston and West Jacksonville. 
      • Rationale: Conversion positions Susie E. Tolbert to be near 100 percent capacity; Ensures long-term sustainability of school in context of countywide challenge of low building utilization and flat to declining enrollment due to increased competition and low residency rates.

  • S.P. Livingston Elementary School
    • Challenge: S.P. Livingston has been a “D,” “F” or hold harmless “D” or “F” for 14 of last 17 years; Utilization approximately 52 percent; Forty-four percent of parents opting out of school for magnet, special transfer, charter, and other choice options. 
    • Change: Full conversion to a grades Pre-K – 2 Early Learning Center, including Head Start programs; Students 3-5 able to transfer to Susie E. Tolbert.
      • Rationale: S.P. Livingston and Susie E. Tolbert combination more likely to overcome history of lower performance by separating the work of early learning and grade level accountability performance with challenge of more rigorous standards and accountability; Protects longevity of the school/building and moves utilization rate to near 100 percent; S.P. Livingston and Susie E. Tolbert combination more likely to overcome history of lower performance by separating the work of early learning and grade level accountability performance with challenge of more rigorous standards and accountability.
         
  • West Jacksonville Elementary School
    • Challenge: West Jacksonville has been a “D,” “F,” hold harmless “D” or “F” for 10 of last 17 years; School faced state sanctions, such as closure, charter conversion, or operation through a private management company; Utilization approximately 42 percent; Forty percent of parents in the West Jacksonville boundary opt-out of the school for magnet, special transfer, and other choice options. 
    • Change: Full conversion to grades 4-12 overage site to replace JWJ-ACT and Bridge locations; Provides Edward Waters College with full access to JWJ-ACT building; West Jacksonville K-2 boundary change to S.P Livingston and 3-5 boundary change to Susie E. Tolbert. 
      • Rationale: West Jacksonville is converted to overage center to address challenge districtwide and within urban core at late elementary and middle school levels; Full service resources shifted to the school; West Jacksonville will also offer night school for all students and additional Parent Academy sessions; Building utilization stays the same with greater potential for growth. Protects longevity of the school and building.

  • Wolfson High School Boundary Change
    • Challenge: School has lost more than 1,200 students in the boundary to charter schools, magnet schools, home education, McKay, and other options.
    • Change: Converted to dedicated magnet school for Advanced International Studies and Leadership, and International Baccalaureate program beginning with the 2016-2017 ninth-grade class.
        • Rationale: Conversion will enable stronger recruitment of neighborhood students; Follows successful strategy used at Julia Landon College Preparatory and Leadership Development School.
 
Applications are currently being accepted for school program enrollment. For more information on the program and boundary changes and for application material, please visit: http://www.duvalschools.org/Page/18860.

About Duval County Public Schools
Duval County Public Schools is the 20th largest school district in the nation, educating more than 128,000 students in over 190 schools. Its mission is to provide educational excellence for every school, in every classroom, for every student, every day. Visit www.duvalschools.org to learn more.

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