DCPS board members considering outside help for at-risk schools

1,300 students in Duval could soon be headed to a new school.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --Duval County school board members have until Nov. 15 to come up with a recommendation for three schools that have failed to improve scores on state tests over the past three years. Board members continued discussing options at a workshop Tuesday.

The future remains unknown for roughly 1,300 students at Lake Forest Elementary, Matthew Gilbert Middle School and Northwestern Middle School.

The schools failed to improve state scores to a “C” level in the past three years and if they fail to improve on the next round of scores, by June, they’ll see changes next school year.

School board members can agree to close the school, turn control over to an external operator, make the school a ‘district-run’ charter school or have an existing charter-school take over.

At this point, Interim Superintendent Dr. Patricia Willis indicated Tuesday an external operator appears to be the likely option.

However, Willis has scheduled another meeting for the districts “community assessment team” Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Mathew Gilbert to hear more input from schools and parents. The last meeting in October at Northwestern Middle school netted around 100 people.

The tough part is that board members will have to approve a contract by January 31 before student scores are released. As a result, Willis indicated a charter-school option appears less likely, as once a contract would be agreed too, even if a student’s scores improve, the control of the school would be turned-over to the charter-school.

Under the plan, students wouldn’t notice much of a change, possibly a name, but operations would remain in the same building. However, under a charter-school option, staff would be at the discretion of charter school operations, which would mean staff would have to reapply for their jobs. Again, this option doesn’t appear likely, but is an option.

Willis did specify that school board members can change their recommendation after November 15 if needed, which means this process will continue over the coming weeks.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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