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Costly consultant says school leaders need to get along

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Updated: 6/21/2013 8:17 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The results are in after the Clay County school district spent $5,000 on a private consultant to help improve district communication.

Even though summer break just started, Terry Childers has big concerns looking ahead to next year. She says her top fear is the school district's finances.

"Which means they have less teachers for the classrooms, which makes classes fuller. So the children don't get the one-on-one they need from teachers," said Childers.

With budget belts tightening yet again in Clay County, Childers doesn't agree with the district's decision to spend thousands on a private consultant. "They shouldn't need outside influence to come in and tell them what they're doing wrong."

Action News was first to tell you Charlie Van Zant spent $5,000 plus travel expenses for a two-month contract with David Voss and Associates.

The consultant conducted a number of interviews with parents and business leaders. He recently reported the findings to school leaders.

I've learned the biggest issue was easing the tense relationship between board members and the superintendent.

But taxpayers Action News talked with say the consultant simply pointed out something everyone already knew.

Action News cameras caught repeated clashes at school board meetings, which even prompted the Chamber of Commerce to urge school leaders to stop the bickering.

Now, Childers is left wondering if the thousands spent was worth the results. "They need to get over it and learn to work together. If you don't work together, you're not going to get anything done."

A lot of the back and forth between school leaders started after Van Zant sued the school board.

The two sides eventually settled, but Action News has learned county taxpayers will still foot the bill for roughly $24,000 in legal fees.
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