JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Superintendent of Duval County schools spoke to Action News about a reform program approved by the school board this week for some of the city's most troubled schools.
Dr. Nikolai Vitti said, "It brings the human capital that sometimes large urban districts don't have and it allows you to focus on particular students you know are in jeopardy of not graduating by the 12th grade."
Students will be evaluated and identified by experts coming here from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Children below grade level in reading or math will get special daily mentors.
"There's a lot of kids around here that need that program," said Allan Simpkins, father of a 5th grader at the Northside's Mathew Gilbert Middle School.
"It'll keep him out of trouble and help him out a little bit too," said Simpkins.
District officials identified areas where students need the most social and emotional health services. Along with Mathew Gilbert Middle, nearby Jackson High is the only other school where faculty will team with Johns Hopkins reformers. It's a program funded by a $750,000 federal grant.
Dr. Vitti says it's the same program he implemented as Assistant Superintendent of Miami Schools. Vitti told Action News, "I thought it was very successfully in Miami and nationally. So my intent is to preserve it in these two schools, but also to expand it in other schools.