• Superintendent disappointed with number of failing schools

    By: Deanna Bettineschi


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - When former Duval County student Tamara Strunk heard about the Duval County's newly released school grades and how more schools are failing, she says it didn’t come as a shock.

    "I mean, it’s not really a surprise to me," said Strunk.

    The good news is not all counties have this problem.

    St. Johns County, Clay County and Nassau County schools didn't receive any F’s this year.

    But Duval County is a different story.

    Last year it had 11 failing schools; this year there are 22, including charter schools.

    Duval County School Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti says he is disappointed with these grades.

    "It just means we have students in high concentration of poverty going to these schools, and these schools have been historically low-performing. With all that said, those aren’t excuses," said Vitti.

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    Vitti says he plans to fix this issue by making sure the schools are staffed with the right leaders.

    He says he already has a plan to try to fix that.

    "Moving into next year with the new financial incentives to recruit the best principals, paying them more than they usually make to relocate to those schools," said Vitti.

    But Vitti also points out the district is doing some things right.

    Vitti says 65 percent of the schools earned an A, B, or C.

    "If we have a great leader at a school not only do teachers respond to that, but more importantly students and parents," said Vitti.

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    Vitti hopes students will see a different learning environment sooner rather than later.

    "If they put enough funding into and effort, it could be done," said Strunk.

    Vitti says he is happy to know that at least three schools went from D's to A's.

    He hopes other schools will do the same next year.

    Vitti says next year there will be a new assessment system, so he's not sure exactly what performance grades could look like.

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