Duval Schools looking at cuts, classroom changes to make up $62 million budget hole

Jacksonville, FL — The Duval County School District is facing a $62 million budget hole, and they’re proposing a broad list of changes to make up that gap.

The Administration presented its recommendation to the School Board Tuesday, calling for some job cuts, middle school schedule changes, arts and PE changes, and more. The School Board will vet the plan, and vote on the final budget in the next few months.

A DCPS Spokesperson says a main goal in their proposal is to keep impact on the classroom at a minimum, but they’re dealing with relatively flat revenue from the State. The District says they only received about 47 cents more in per-student funding.

“47 cents per-student doesn’t go very far, and we hope that- in the future- public education is more valued in the state of Florida, and these types of budget impacts become a thing of the past,” says DCPS Spokesperson Tracy Pierce.

At the District level, DCPS’ proposal would cut operational costs and 50 positions. We’re told there will also be adjustments to the way teachers are allocated to schools.

The frequency of art, music, and physical education classes your child receives in elementary schools would be changing, if this plan is approved. DCPS says, right now, each school has the same number of educators for these areas, regardless of the size of the school- meaning some students in smaller schools get more frequent classes in these areas than others in larger ones. Under the proposed changes, the District would assign staff by a ratio to students.

“What we’re doing is equalizing those resources- those teachers at those schools- so that every student gets arts, music, and PE at roughly an equal amount,” Pierce says.

DCPS says the classes would still be provided at least once a week.

Middle schools would also move to a traditional seven-period class schedule, instead of block schedules.

WOKV asked if the District would consider pursuing more revenue, through options like a tax increase. Pierce says, because there's a new Superintendent coming in July 1, he didn't want to speculate on what her preferences could be in that regard. When the School Board hired Dr. Diana Greene to take over the top spot in Duval, they commended her ability to bring in more revenue in Manatee County, where she served as Superintendent until now.

Pierce says they are hoping to avoid measures like this in the future.

“We really hope that Florida will climb the ladder out of one of the states that funds education at the lowest level per-student in the nation,” he says.

The School Board will start to closely examine and act on budget proposal next month.

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