Could open enrollment reshape athletic programs in DCPS?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Open enrollment is up for a vote by the school board in April. It's a move that could shake things up within Duval County Public Schools.

But what would happen to the athletic programs if school choice were implemented? In DCPS there are a few teams known to be power-houses in certain sports. If parents were able to choose any school for their child to attend within the district would that re-shape athletic programs?

Michelle Smith proudly supports her son Daniel from the stands. He plays baseball for Englewood High School. The teams record this year isn't exactly ideal. Smith, a mother of three says for her family it's all about fun. She says more important than baseball is the quality of education her children receive.

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"Choices are always good, especially in education," said Smith.

Duval County Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti has proposed open enrollment as an option for the district. It's a way to stay competitive and possibly stop students from leaving the system. A discussion being had by coaches and parents in town is how it could possibly affect athletics. Some worry many school sports programs already lacking funding would greatly suffer and possibly even end.

Terry Phillips, Associate Head Coach for Wolfson High's baseball team believes otherwise.

"I think they would spread out and I think it would balance the whole system," said Phillips.

He's coached for about 34 years and has seen many changes in that time. One more change he's looking forward to is parents and their student-athletes being able to choose where they go to school.

"I think you're going to have, your strong teams will be strong and your younger teams will begin to get stronger," said Phillips. "Two or three years down the road it will be very competitive."

RELATED STORY: DCPS Superintendent pushing open enrollment

As a parent, Smith says she's concerned about students going to certain schools just because of its athletic program, but admits that's nothing new.

"Certain people go to certain schools anyways," said Smith. "You know, they want to be on that team."

What are your thoughts about open enrollment? Email Keitha Nelson at


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