Filling seats in the classrooms

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Rufus Payne Elementary of Northwest Jacksonville has the most capacity, it has 50 percent of its seats empty. In Mayport, Mayport Elementary has plenty of capacity too, but it is half-full with fewer than 400 students.

The school board is looking at ways to make schools that have room for more students more attractive and cost efficient.

"You can initiate all the programs you want," said Ken Bennett.

He is a father and says you cannot discount the role of the community in the process.

"Again going to put it back the responsibility on parents. Lets encourage these kids and have them shoot for higher heights," said Bennett.

The district says empty seats are also signs of what's happening in some neighborhoods. During discussion of open enrollment, fears were expressed that schools with few students could be closed.

The superintendent says closing schools was not on the table. However, what is being discussed is finding ways to give the schools under capacity a jump-start.

"So as we see those movements, we can look at them see where interest lies what programs. We need to build in schools that are under enrolled in order to attract students and bring them to that school," said Ashley Smith Juarez, Duval County School Board Member.


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