• 41 local schools to add hour to school day

    By: Erica Bennett


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As summer ends, and little ones go back to class -- there will be big changes. 41 elementary schools in Duval County must add an extra hour of instruction time.

    Superintendent Nikolai Vitti tells Action News, with that, comes challenges.

    "Although an extra hour could be beneficial to students, it came with no additional funding,” he explained.

    The 41 schools are part of a list of 300 underperforming statewide. According to the Department of Education, they have the lowest combined total percentage of students passing and making gains on the FCAT reading exam. The price tag to follow the mandate isn't cheap. Dr. Vitti says it will cost between $8 and $10 million.

    "Most of the expenses go to paying for the teachers staying an extra hour. We'll also have some paraprofessionals, like security guards who have to stay longer. And we have to pay additional transportation,” he continued.

    We did some checking and found out the district set aside $3 million in anticipation of the mandate, and will cover the rest with rollover money from last fiscal year. Parents we spoke with say the move is a good start, but must be part of a group effort.

    "Yes there's a lot of work that needs to be done, but I think the most important. Parent involvement is extremely important,” Cherisse Seymour said.

    Vitti says students with extra reading instruction improve at a fast rate. He's hopeful going forward.

    "What we're trying to do is make lemonade out of lemons.”

    Duval Public Schools will hold several meetings before the school year to inform parents about the changes.

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