Florida district reconfigures six schools

Focus on early learning, autism, arts, military leadership and advanced studies
By: | March 21, 2016

The Duval County School Board reconceived six schools to focus on early learning, autism, arts, military leadership and advanced studies.

Last summer, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti spearheaded the program and boundary changes to improve low performance and offer stronger educational options to attract students back to traditional public schools.

“Clearly, we have communities and parents that want more than short-term, surface-level reforms to the challenges that we have been facing for many years” Vitti said in a press release. “Reform is not easy, and together we are beginning to meet the demands of parents and students for stronger programming and educational options.”

Board-approved school boundary and program changes include:

Oak Hill Elementary School

Challenges: School has lost more than 310 students to charter schools, magnet schools, and home education. School has received an “F” for two years in a row and a “D” for the two years prior to that.

Change: Full conversion to Autism Lab School

Rationale: Enhances unique programming and provides more options to autistic students, particularly those with severe or severe-moderate disabilities.

Fort Caroline Middle School Boundary Change

Challenge: School has lost more than 669 students to charter schools, magnet schools and home education. School has earned two “D’s” and an “F” in past four years.

Change: Convert Fort Caroline Middle to International Baccalaureate visual and performing arts magnet.

Rationale: Strengthens middle school program menu for parents and students districtwide and expands programming in Arlington area.

Ed White High School Change

Challenge: School has lost more than 1,500 students. Ranks lowest among all high schools for graduation rate.

Change: Convert to a grades 9 through 12 military leadership magnet academy, beginning with next year’s ninth-grade class.

Rationale: Builds off support, momentum and enthusiasm for military leadership program. Leverages military presence in Jacksonville.

Wolfson High School Boundary Change

Challenge: School has lost more than 1,200 students.

Change: Convert to dedicated magnet school for advanced international studies and leadership beginning with next year’s ninth-grade class.

Rationale: To boost recruitment of neighborhood students. Follows a successful strategy used at a district middle school.

Hyde Park/Hyde Grove elementary schools

Challenge: Hyde Grove has lost more than 275 students and has received an “F” the past two years and a “D” the year prior to that. Hyde Park has lost more than 341. It received an “F” in 2014 and a “D” for the year prior to that.

Change: Convert Hyde Grove to pre-K through grade 2. Convert Hyde Park to grades 3 through 6. Full transportation and extended day programs at both schools.

Rationale: Strategy focuses, including preschool and Head Start programming, to ensure students are on grade level by third grade, including preschool and Head Start programming. Streamlines district costs while incorporating partners for arts integration and reading intervention.