Superintendent Asks for Community Financial Support

A message from Superintendent Greene: Historic School Board Agenda Item

The agenda for our May School Board meeting is now a public document. It contains an item that will change the course of history for our students and for our schools.

The quality of school facilities matters. Here’s why:

  • They provide light, acoustics, and air quality that directly impact learning.
  • They offer inviting spaces that emanate a sense of warmth and community that enhances student self-belief and desire to be in school.
  • They provide technology that optimizes instruction and prepares students for today’s workplace.
  • They communicate to children that their community values education.
  • They are built to maximize student security and safety in today’s unpredictable world.

Duval County public school buildings need substantial improvement. Next Tuesday, May 7, I am recommending that our School Board pass a resolution to ask Duval voters for a voluntary, half-penny sales tax with all of those resources going toward projects to vastly improve school buildings over the next 15 years.

If successful, we will become much more efficient with tax dollars and make neighborhoods more desirable for current and future residents. Property values will be positively impacted, and future employers will see Duval as a community willing to serve the needs of all of its children.

Prior to the vote scheduled for November, we will have completed the long-term facilities master plan, and voters will know how the dollars will be used. Accountability is built-in. If the resolution passes, a community oversight committee will be empaneled to ensure the funding is used appropriately.

Too many of Duval’s public school buildings were built for a different era. They are old, inefficient, deteriorating and inappropriate for today’s rigorous standards and expectations for student achievement. We need to move forward with urgency for our students and for our community.

Duval County Public Schools’ new history begins on May 7. Our students deserve this, and our community deserves this. I look forward to the coming months as we begin to write new chapters of success for public education in Duval County.

Sincerely,

Diana L. Greene, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent Vitti Updates PTA April 10, 2017

The following is an email response from Superintendent Nikolai Vitti referring to the DCCPTA Board Meeting held 4/6/17.

Dr. Vitti’s comments.

I understand that you had several questions at your board meeting this morning and I wanted to provide you with the information requested.  As you know, the legislative information is time-sensitive, as some of these bills move through the process rather quickly.  Thank you for your continued advocacy.

  • Capital Outlay Funding (HB5103 and SB376) – OPPOSE

o   Below is the slide requested at the meeting that explains the manner in which the funding can be allocated.  Right now one of the bills requires local governments to keep the funding at 1.5 mills

  • School Improvement (HB5105) – OPPOSE

o   For all schools on their first D or F:  1 planning year, and if a school is lower than a C the following year, 3 options

  • Closure and transfer students to another school in the district
  • Close and reopen as a charter
  • Close and reopen under a management company

o   Very little opportunity for community input regarding options

o   Allocates $200 Million for Charter “Schools of Hope”

The Powerpoint presentation from the board meeting is attached, that includes additional information.

  • Education (SB926) – SUPPORT

o   Reduces testing by allowing districts to substitute nationally recognized exams such as AP, IB, AICE, and Industry Certification exams in lieu of FSAs and state end of course exams

o   Requires the DOE to have a paper/pencil alternative for all state assessments

Please feel free to call Dr. Kriznar at 390-2115 if you have additional questions regarding legislation.

I also understand that you asked where Detroit was in the superintendent search process.  As you may already know, I was selected as a finalist for the position, and last week I traveled to Detroit for my interview.  As a follow up, their board search team visited Jacksonville last week to visit schools and speak with community and district stakeholders regarding my leadership.  Next week they will be traveling to visit the district of the other finalist.  Their board has not provided a definitive date for the final selection at this time, but I would anticipate that a decision would be made this month.

Regardless of the outcome, there is still much work to be done here.  We are in the process of preparing a draft budget and have started the closing of school timeline.  I remain committed to the work in this district, and I am keeping my leadership team focused on support for our students and our schools.  I have worked hard over the past years to put in place a strong leadership team and I have every confidence in their ability to implement the systems already in place to move the district forward.

Once again, thank you for your support and commitment to public education.  If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to forward them.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti
vittin@duvalschools.org
April 10, 2017

Duval May Lose Three Middle Schools to Charters If State Bill Passes, Board Warns

Posted April 4, 2017 | 08:40 pm | Updated 09:45 pm | By Denise Smith Amos

Duval schools might have to close and give away three middle schools to a charter school operator next school year if a bill moving fast in Florida’s House gets approved, district leaders said Tuesday during a School Board meeting.  The district also could lose tens of millions more dollars each year to charter schools if other proposed changes are approved that would change the way capital dollars are awarded. Capital outlay dollars, which are raised locally and from the state, pay for school buildings, facility improvements and equipment. The result, if these bills succeed, could be massive transfers of tax payer dollars and tax-funded assets, such as school buildings, to charter school operators, district leaders said.  And if those charter schools close, taxpayers won’t recoup most of those assets, said board member Becki Couch.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools that operate like private schools, independent of elected School Boards. In Florida, many state legislators have received large political campaign donations from charter school operators. Charter school proponents in the Legislature have said they are trying to expand school choices for students in persistently under-performing schools.House Bill 5101 would force all Florida districts to close public schools that are graded D or F in consecutive years and turn those schools over to charter school operators. There are 115 D and F schools in Florida this year, said board Chairwoman Paula Wright.  In Duval County, Ribault Middle School, Matthew Gilbert Middle and Northwestern Middle are in danger, she said. Ribault Middle has a D, the same as last year; Gilbert has a D, up from F last year; and Northwest Middle has a D, up from F. Those schools serve about 1,600 students.If those schools don’t earn a C or better this school year, Duval could be forced to close them and allow a charter school to take over, if the bill succeeds, said Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.  Under Florida law now, only a school board can open or close a district school. The law change would give such decisions to charter operators and the state, he said.Also, the bill would significantly reduce how much time a district has to turn around a school. Now districts have several years, but the change would give them one or two.District leaders urged the board meeting audience to contact their state representatives this week.  “We still have time to pull together as a community so we make certain they understand that this is not what we want,” Wright said. “If they’re going to use our tax dollars, we should have a say-so.”  Oak Hill Elementary and Hyde Grove Elementary are also being monitored, Vitti said, because they have already been restructured by the district this school year, Vitti said.  Oak Hill now specializes in autism and Hyde Grove specializes in preschool through second grades.

The bill is designed to attract charter operators to Florida by allowing them to create “schools of hope” within those schools, which will mostly be in low-income neighborhoods. Vitti said the bill used to call them “schools of success” but legislators changed that because “success” would be difficult name to live up to.Under the bill, if a charter school takes over a low-scoring public school, they won’t have to provide transportation and their teachers won’t have the same requirements for certification as regular public school teachers do, Couch said.  Vitti added that so far, charter schools have not as a whole performed better than district schools in low-income areas.If a School of Hope fails to get a C or better over five years, the bill would require that charter school to close and the control over the school building would go to the state — not back the district, Vitti said.There is no a matching bill in the Florida Senate. State Sen. Aaron Bean, a Republican representing Nassau and part of Duval County, did propose one but later withdrew it.But some observers have said it would be possible to quickly pass a Senate version by including it in an omnibus education bill, sometimes called a “legislative train,” with little or no debate.Denise Smith Amos: (904) 359-4083

Article provided by Karen Nuland, President-Duval County Council of PTAs

Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti Addresses PTA Member Questions

March 1, 2017

The Duval County Council PTA would like to thank Dr. Nikolai Vitti for keeping PTA membership informed by addressing member questions.  Dr. Vitti will answers question at the next DCCPTA general meeting March 28 @ 9:30 am at the school board building.

  1. Information about the Midyear assessment results.

Click Here for a recent presentation regarding student achievement at midyear.

  1. What professional development is available to math teachers?  Is it mandatory?

Professional development for mathematics is provided weekly via face-to-face meetings or on a digital platform, and every other week through early release and administrator-led common planning. Mathematics professional development offerings are also available throughout the school year. Mandatory professional development for math teachers occurs each week. Two times per month the mandatory professional development is offered by the district and twice per month the mandatory professional development is facilitated by the school leadership team.

  1. Can after school tutoring be held with teachers who have been specially selected?

This would need to be negotiated through collective bargaining. The challenge here is if specific teachers are willing to conduct after school tutoring.

  1. Can students participate in the evaluation of their teachers?

No. Student input is not a factor in the approved teacher evaluation system. Teacher assessments are a negotiated item, and must include the components required by the state.

  1. Can DCPS employees serve as PTA Treasurer and/or one of the signatures on PTA checks?

After receiving this request, we consulted our internal auditors as well as the other large districts in the state.  We would recommend not using a district employee as PTA Treasurer or a cosigner on PTA checks, if there are other options available.  I understand that there are instances where it is difficult to find individuals to fulfill this function.  A district employee may serve in this role under the following conditions:

  • The employee cannot serve this role at their assigned workplace.
  • The employee cannot be a signer on any other district funds (this would eliminate bookkeepers and principals, at minimum).
  • The employee cannot handle PTA funds at any point during their work hours at their current work site.
  • The employee must have written approval from their current supervisor.
  • The employee should have a PTA officer that is not a signer on the PTA account review the monthly financial reports prior to submitting them to the school.
  1. What is the district doing about weapons in schools?

Click Here for a PowerPoint presentation that outlines the issues and next steps.  I understand that several DCC PTA Board Members recommended the Know the Law presentation by JSO and Drug-Free Duval.  We have followed up on this, and The Parent Academy will be offering several sessions soon.

Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent
Duval County Public Schools
1701 Prudential Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32207
Phone: 904.390.2115
Fax: 904.390.2586
Email: vittin@duvalschools.org

Duval County Public School Representative Answered Questions at PTA Meeting

Dr. Dana Kriznar, Duval County Public School Chief of Staff addressed questions that were asked at the Duval County Council PTA General Membership Meeting held January 24, 2017.

1.      The Choice applications are due before Magnet letters are mailed out.  Frequently parents want to select Choice options if they do not get into a Magnet, but at that point, it is too late to submit an application.  Have we thought about changing the timing of the deadlines for applications and/or notification of seats?

The Choice application process begins on April 15th, but does not end until May 15th.  Letters for magnet acceptance are typically mailed out in early April, so there is usually not a conflict.  If an individual has specific concerns about the deadline, please refer him/her to Pearl Roziers, Assistant Superintendent of School Choice, at roziersp@duvalschools.org.

2.      Why are Google Docs being blocked?  The National History Day site is blocked, as well.

 OneView, the district education portal was launched on July 1, 2016. While OneView is an education portal that was built by Microsoft for Duval County Public Schools, its integration with Office 365 provides all district end-users with 24/7 access to the tools they need to do their work. OneView/Office 365 offers all of the features of Google Apps plus single sign-on functionality. While utilizing Google Apps might have made sense when the district did not have a platform with the same functionality, that is no longer the case. Now that OneView/Office 365 is available, the need for end-users to have access to Google Apps is no longer necessary. In a district of our size, standardization is imperative to ensure support as well as the ability for teachers to have access to student files.

Although it may be inconvenient to lose access to the Google Apps, it should not keep students and teachers from collaborating and/or sharing work. The intention is not to keep anyone from doing their work but to support them in adapting to this new way of work.  The Instructional Technology Team is available to work with the teachers and students in our schools to assist with this transition.

I understand that this change is not easy, especially when an individual has become comfortable using a particular technology platform.  The transition to OneView/Office 365 is an opportunity to experience change and discover that new tools such as OneNote Class Notebook can actually improve the instructional experience.

In reference to your other technology concern, the site that allows students to view and create websites for their National History Day presentations (https://nhd.weebly.com/) has now been recategorized to allow students to view and create websites.  Thank you for calling this oversight to my attention.

3.      One parent was invited to a gifted stakeholder meeting this evening, but a number of other parents were not.  How was it decided which parents were invited to attend?  Must parents RSVP in order to attend?

We used the distribution list for the Gifted Stakeholder list from last year as a starting point for inviting parents and community.  Additionally, we have sent the information on these meetings out to teachers of the gifted for sharing with their parents/guardians.  We welcome any parents/guardians or community members to attend.  While we appreciate having an RSVP so we can have the appropriate number of chairs and printed materials available for all who attend, we welcome anyone who comes to the meeting.  Those wishing to be added to the distribution list for notification of future meetings can email Paula Renfro at renfrop@duvalschools.org .

4.      There were several concerns about field trip buses arriving late or not arriving at all.  In addition, bus drivers have arrived at schools that did not know where they were supposed to go.  Can anything be done about this?

Dr. Kriznar has shared the specific examples provided at the meeting to Don Nelson, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, and he is investigating those incidents.  Mr. Nelson has already met with the Operations Officer of one of the bus companies noted in this morning’s meeting.  He will also reach out to the other bus contractors to review expectations of performance.

In addition, he will be looking into our bus contractor performance for field trips to see if there are any trends that needed to be addressed system-wide.  Operations will also post Field Trip instructions and requirements to all principals through our weekly email to administrators.

Once again, thank you for bringing these issues to my attention.  If you have follow up questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kriznar, Dana,, Duval County Public School Chief of Staff

Chartwell’s Chefs in Schools Program

chartwell-chefWe have a few different formats that we can use for a Chefs 2 Schools visit. The most common is our more interactive visit, in which our Chef and dietician prepare a sample of a healthy dish utilizing a fruit or vegetable that is our food focus of the month. We typically try to tie this back in to something that is offered on our menus. This is our most popular version of the Chefs 2 School event. Typically, we host around 30-50 students at these visits. Students get the opportunity to see the chef in action, the chef uses a few student volunteers to assist him, the dietician reviews nutrition education facts regarding the dish, and students get to take home a recipe card.

We can also provide a Chefs 2 School event for the whole school, set during lunch service. This is less interactive, and really focuses on the students simply sampling the item and taking a recipe card home.

Our third option, is called Food Art Friday. During this event, one of our chefs will provide the selected students with fresh fruits/vegetables, and allow them to create artwork with it. We usually reserve this for younger elementary students. They are able to touch, taste, and learn about healthy fruits/veggies. This is typically around 30-40 students due to the interactive nature of the visit.

For more information contact Louisa Alderson, Chartwells Marketing & Communication Manager, Office phone:  904-732-5117,  Louisa.Alderson@compass-usa.com.

 

Participants Needed for the 2016 Adoption Process Secondary ELA and Social Studies Committee

committeeWe are beginning the adoption process for 9-12 ELA, and 6-12 Social Studies. The adoption committee will convene two days for ELA and two days for Social Studies the week of December 12th. Each committee will consist of 30-50 randomly selected teachers, community members, and parents. TDE will be provided for all teachers who participate. If you are interested in participating, please complete the table below and email to Mason Davis and Liz Cutrona no later than Friday, December 2nd. Selected members will be notified by Tuesday, December 6th.

Name Teacher, Parent, or Community Member School/Organization Grade Level Subject Area Email Address

If you have any questions, please contact Mason Davis at davisw2@duvalschools.org, or Liz Cutrona at cutronae1@duvakschools.org.

OneView – DCPS

OneViewOneView is a communication, collaboration, and content management tool designed to empower members of the Duval County Public Schools community by providing personalized access to important data, resources, and services.  DCPS teachers, students, administrators, and staff access OneView using their district username/password.  Parents/Guardians & Community Partners must create a DCPS account if they have not already done so.  CLICK HERE to create an account.  CLICK HERE to access OneView!  OneView Frequently Asked Questions .