JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- The seventeenth day of school came with a top task: figuring out how many students are actually enrolled in Duval County schools. And Action News has learned the number is way down. There are nearly 1,600 kids who aren't in the classroom.
"It's a very small number given 125,000 students," said Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals.
Pratt Dannals tells Action News the state predicted a 700 student increase this year and that never happened. He thinks another chunk of kids transferred into the county's expanded charter school program this year while others are being home schooled.
"We will look at what happened and where are students going and is there a way to pull some of them back into the district through virtual learning or some of our alternative programs we put in place."
But fewer students means less funding. A loss of 1,600 kids comes with an estimated seven million dollar impact. But we've learned that won't cost local teacher's their jobs. Pratt-Dannals says they worked smart and planned ahead by not filling 75 intervene positions.
"Because we've managed these positions we wouldn't be deficit. Now had we hired all 75 of those teachers and didn't have a place for them then it could be an issue and a problem."
But if this enrollment drop is a sign of what's to come there could be big problems down the line.
"Unless it becomes a trend," he said. "Then we'd have to look at it as a concern."
He says he thinks one of reasons for fewer students is the local economy. He says our area hasn't recovered as quickly as the rest of the state and if there aren't jobs, people aren't sticking around.