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Duval County School Board, Jacksonville City Council review education landscape

7:56 PM, Mar 12, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's a once a year meeting that brings the Duval County School Board and the Jacksonville City Council together to discuss education.

Among topics discussed were the often talked about comparison between Duval schools and those in neighboring St. Johns County and what can be done to keep teens in school.

"We are always compared to St. Johns. I think that is inevitable because we are neighbors," said Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

In the last state rankings, St. Johns earned the number one ranking with Duval coming in 50. There are 67 school districts in Florida.

Vitti said when comparing similar populations, Duval is on par with St. Johns.

"Demographically speaking, the average child in Duval is not the average child in St. Johns. That does not mean have lower expectations, it just means we have additional challenges," said Vitti.

On the dropout front, Councilman Reginald Brown questioned why the age to drop out remains at 16.  

"All of this can change if we move the age from dropping out from 16 to 18," said Brown.

School board member Becki Couch agreed, saying it's time for change.

"At 16, I don't think (they are) really equipped to make that decision," said Couch.

Duval County has a drop out rate that pushes 3 percent with more than 600 teens enrolled in the Drop Back In Academy. The alternative education is free to help teens who dropped out finish their education. 

Nationally, 15 states have taken action to raise age to dropout to 18. Florida law allows 16 year olds to make that decision.     

First Coast News

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