Recession Recovery and Beyond
Study Committee Meeting
Duval County February 23, 2011
Clanzenetta “Mickee” Brown JCCI Study Planner firstname.lastname@example.org
In attendance: Meeting Attendees: Elaine Brown (Chair), Guy Anderson, Danita Andrews, Jim Beeler, Sarah Boren, Elaine Brown, Lee Brown, Cathy Chambers, Jeane Chappell, Thomas Clift, Jim Crooks, Logan Cross, Lad Daniels, Kelly DeLucia, Marilyn Feldstein, Bill Gassett, Patricia Hanrahan, Gabriel Hanson, Robert Hawkins, David Johnson, Kellie Jo Kilberg, Bill Larson, Jack Manilla, Conrad Markle, Karen Mathis, Alex McCoy, Paul McElroy, Julie McNeil, Chris Park, Granville Reed, Amy Skinner, Chris Steilberg, Michelle Tappouni, Deborah Thompson, Joe Whitaker, and Stephanie Winters [If your name does not appear, but you were in attendance, please let us know.] Staff Members: Mickee Brown, Skip Cramer, and Demetrius Jenkins Meeting Time: Noon – 1:30 PM JCCI Executive Director, Skip Cramer welcomed the study committee on behalf of study Chair, Elaine Brown. Upon Chair Brown’s arrival the committee reviewed the February 16th group process check results and approved both the February 2nd and February 9th meeting summaries. The chair introduced the day’s speakers: Ben Wortham, Superintendent, Clay County Schools; Ed Pratt-Dannals, Superintendent Duval County Public Schools; Dr. John L. Ruis, Superintendent Nassau County School District; Tom Townsend, Superintendent Putnam County Schools; and Dr. Joseph Joyner, St. Johns County School District. The day’s topic was Regional job growth and the roles of k-12 education. Each speaker was asked to provide a 5-6 minute statement in response to the following question to be following by a question and answer period with the study committee. What is the role of public, k-12 education in educating the workforce of the future? Please highlight in your remarks the importance of vocational education (if any), challenges educators face in rural, suburban, or urban districts, and the validity of using k-12 education outcomes as an indicator of a community’s workforce viability? Ben Wortham – Clay County Clay County has 36,000 students and 13 academies at the junior and high schools that provide career and technical education (CTE). Career education offers students the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation with a specific skills set. Career and technical education has been embraced by Education Secretary Arne Duncan. A recent Harvard study reveals that 42 percent of 27 year olds do not have a postsecondary credential. Similarly, 61 percent of students who graduated high school in 1991 had not earned any credential as of 2001. Most people in the United States do not complete a four year college program. Only 30 percent of the country’s adults have earned a bachelor’s degree. A career focus in high school helps students prepare for work and further technical education. Skilled technicians often out earn their bachelor degreed counterparts. Clay County’s employers have embraced the CTE program, but we are challenged to get more participation for job shadowing and mentoring. It is a myth that public education does not adequately prepare students for success in the workplace or higher education.
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Intensive programs in the schools for reading and math must end. The students having the greatest difficulty are those who need a learning program focused on work and career pathways.
Ed Pratt-Dannals – Duval County Duval County has the 20th largest school district in the country and the 6th largest in the State of Florida. The district is a minority-majority district. Forty-two percent of the students are white and 44 percent are black. Years ago there were three high school tracks – college preparatory, vocational education, and business education. The system was designed so that 20 to 25 percent of students went to a fouryear college or university. Today there is only one track because the nature of work has changed. Most jobs today require an Associate of Science degree or a technical certification. We demand more of our students than we did before. The high school program is much more academically rigorous. This caused a drop in graduation rates, but the rate has increased by 10 percent over the past five years. The least prepared students were often placed in the most boring classes, but it has been our experience that students will rise to the challenge if presented with a more demanding curriculum. The high school graduation rate is a key indicator for businesses. However, the method of calculation and the rigor of high school programs vary among districts and states. The district has partnered with Florida State College at Jacksonville to better prepare students for college level work. Remediation begins in twelfth grade after students take the CPT (college placement test) in eleventh grade using FSCJ’s curriculum. Duval County has 32 career academies; several are nationally certified. Students are being prepared to work in information technology, health care, aviation, logistics, and other career fields. Dr. John L. Ruis – Nassau County The role of public education in economic development is evolving, but still not completely clear for our region. After 30 years in education, 18 in Nassau County, the focus has switched from vocational education to career academies, and now to career and technical education. These changes in focus often coincide with economic trends, but trying to keep up can get expensive for a small district like Nassau. The district formed a partnership with Florida State College at Jacksonville in Yulee to offer technical education opportunities for students in the district’s four high schools via dual enrollment. However, only those students able to pass the CPT were eligible and we could not find enough students to qualify. Local school districts must also adhere to unfunded state mandates intended to improve student outcomes. Senate Bill 1908 requires that students graduating from high school are college ready. School grades are based in part on how well students score on college placement tests. We have been pleased at how well the students in the district have performed. We have also strengthened our relationship with FSCJ as a result. In another legislative action, Senate Bill 4 increases graduation requirements and requires students to pass end of course exams. Due to financial limitations and institutional directives it is time to pull together all the region’s critical players - particularly legislators - to collaborate with the schools, state colleges, and businesses to define the role of public education in Northeast Florida. We need to determine our education and economic development paradigm. Tom Townsend – Putnam County When I arrived in the district, the students graduating from high school were not prepared for work or college. Students were also lacking requisite communication and interpersonal skills. We must prepare each student to the point that someone is willing to invest in him or her be it an employer or a higher education institution. The district does well, especially when we use the graduation rate as the indicator. However, our 2434 Atlantic Boulevard
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Bright Scholars are being remediated. To better prepare our students to graduate from high school ready to work or attend college, eighth grade students participate in ACT’s EXPLORE program, which helps students plan their high school courses, prepare for the ACT, or choose a career direction. Once the students enter tenth grade, they sit for the ACT. The use of data acquired from testing allows us to better assist individual students and communicate to the community how tax dollars are being used. Though Putnam is a poor county with limited resources, the community has a wealth of assets, particularly the business community that wants us to graduate a quality workforce. Next year the district is going to institute project based learning throughout the k-12 system. We want to focus on problem solving skills. Technologically speaking, our children are far ahead of us – we must move away from being lecturers toward becoming learning facilitators.
Dr. Joseph Joyner – St. Johns County Ten years ago the mission for high schools was very different. It was understood that some students would go on to four year institutions, but not all. Most adults in the U. S. do not have a college degree. Today, one of the roles of k-12 education is to prepare students for high wage/high demand jobs. The career academies are aligned with the region’s target industries and the Department of Labor’s growth industries. St. Johns County has 14 career academies. Our program began without a budget. A coordinator was hired to develop partnerships so that the academies are aligned with industries and higher education institutions in some instances. For example, the St. Johns County Aerospace Academy at St. Augustine High School partners with Northrop Grumman and Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University. The students in this program may be hired right after they graduate or continue on to university. Northrop also provides teachers for the program. This career academy provides students with the “jumping off” point that is right for him or her. Other examples include, the Stellar Academy of Engineering at Nease High School and Flagler Hospital Academy of Medical & Health Careers at Pedro Menendez High School. Success indicators in St. Johns County’s schools can be attributed in part to the success of the students who participate in the career academies. These students do well academically and have higher earnings than their peers – 11 percent over 10 years. The greatest beneficiaries have been young minority males. Quality Counts now ranks Florida 5th instead of 33rd in education quality, but the state still gets a low score for funding. The budget is moving backwards with less and less being spent per student. Further budget cuts will diminish the career academy programs. Question and answers with the panel Q. Does any district have a magnet school for teachers? Pratt-Dannals: We are hiring fewer teachers who graduated from a college of education program. Florida is a receiver state, meaning we do not produce enough teachers and have to recruit from elsewhere. We are particularly short of reading coaches and physics and chemistry teachers. Joyner: St. Augustine High School is the location for the St. Johns County Academy of Future Teachers. Students can earn an Associate of Arts degree from St. Johns River Community College’s teacher preparation program while still in high school. Q. What is your district’s response to students who fall behind? Wortham: Students are required to have a 2.0 GPA to enter an academy. Those unable to make the grade are directed to a career specialist. Townsend: Efforts are made to reach these students before they enter high school. In the middle schools every school employee is encouraged to have a meaningful relationship with students. These 2434 Atlantic Boulevard
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relationships can make a difference in student behavior and outcomes. Pratt-Dannals: We are using data more effectively to identify students who need intensive instruction. Students are placed in small groups to focus on trouble areas. The groups are not like the permanent reading groups from the past. Note that one-third of students come into the system not prepared to learn, one-third of students cannot read on grade level in third grade, and one-third of students do not graduate on time – we are dealing with the same third all the way through. When remediation opportunities are available, only one-half of the students eligible for help show up. Q. What is the role of the parent in education? Townsend: The first thing we need to do is get parents to visit the school to see what is happening inside the building. In Putnam County we have a program where we hire parents to take on ancillary duties, allowing skilled staff to focus on other duties. We pay the parents $75 to $100 week. In a poor county with high unemployment, this outreach gives parents an incentive to come to the school, it helps the district, and the cost is very low. Q. What happens when students do not pass the FCAT? Pratt-Dannals: The district offers intensive programs to help students improve their scores, we partner with the B.E.S.T academy at Bethel Baptist Church to tutor students, and we encourage students to take the ACT because the scores can be used in lieu of the FCAT. Students have had a tendency to do better on the ACT. Q. What can be done to provide more afterschool enrichment programs? Joyner: Fee-based programs are available. Pratt-Dannals: Fee-based programs are available and 90 percent of elementary schools have free academic and enrichment programs via Team-Up. Wortham: The district partners with the YMCA’s Primetime program. Ruis: Nassau County partners with the YMCA as well. Q. Provide more information about Florida being the lowest education funder per student? Joyner: Funding per capita is the lowest in the country – we are 50th. Florida is not a poor state, but the average spent per pupil is $4,000. Q. How will the governor’s budget impact district budgets? Joyner: Each district will lose approximately $500 to $600 per pupil. Q. How do we use technology and/or digital learning as a way to offset costs? Pratt-Dannals: We are experiencing some success with digital learning using virtual and face-to-face instruction. The district is considering going paperless using e-readers instead of books. We can provide students with a device. The problem is connectivity, both the cost and availability. Q. Are we making too many demands on the schools to teach non-academic subjects? Ruis: We get requests from special interest groups to cover fire safety, patriotism, date violence, and so on. We try to incorporate as much as we can, but the instructional day is only so long. Q. How can we avoid tracking students into a non-academic learning track? Joyner: Our career academy students do as well or better academically as non-career academy students. Students choose to participate and must meet the program’s GPA requirements to participate. Wortham: In Clay County, all students are eligible to participate in the CTE programs at any school. For us transportation remains an issue. Q. Is the academic day long enough? 2434 Atlantic Boulevard
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All: No. Townsend: To extend the day would cost an additional $3 million that we do not have. Pratt-Dannals: Extending the day would cost $13 million. A few years ago we were forced to shorten the day for funding reasons. A longer day of quality, rigorous education is of course beneficial to students. Q. Does the funding model change from district to district? Ruis: Funding is a mix of sales and ad valorem taxes. The more money the district contributes to the funding mix, the less the state gives. In Nassau County we are self-funded at 65 percent, 35 percent comes from the state. Pratt-Dannals: Duval County is 50 / 50. Joyner: In St. Johns County we are 70 percent self-funded. Q. What are the programs for very bright students? All: Programs include Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Early College High School, and Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE). Q. Can capital funds be used for instructional purposes? Pratt-Dannals: Funds can be used for maintenance. Capital funds are also used for technology upgrades, so a depletion of those funds limits such expenditures. Joyner: We are the fastest growing school district in the state, but falling property values have reduced the capital budget by 40 percent. Ruis: We could levy up to two mils for capital costs, but that has been reduced to 1.5 mils. Townsend: Even with the flexibility afforded to us, we still have projects that cannot get done. We need air-conditioning, but the money is not available. Wortham: A mil is not worth the same from county to county. A St. Johns County mil is worth 2.5 times a Clay County mil. Group discussion comments The region needs education funding, but the dollars are not available for growth, maintenance and other needs. We are letting businesses come into the high schools to recruit their future staffs. This, like other special interests, is a demand on the instructional day as well. Career academies are an adjustment to a new work/school paradigm, but we are still using old infrastructure with “new” kids. How does the market sustain the cost of private education at upwards of $17,000 per year, but not public education? If schools collect more money locally, then the state provides less. The formula is punitive. The business partnerships in St. Johns County are impressive. These relationships provide relevancy in education for students. While students might be able to get access to a computer, they may not have access to the internet due to cost or the lack of connectivity where they live. How are graduation rates measured in the region? The chair reminded the committee to attend next week’s meeting and asked them to complete their group process check forms. The meeting was adjourned at 1:32 PM.
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