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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Duval County leaves resources on the table while there are needs in the classrooms.

I get it; we have a limited pool of resources and an almost unlimited pool of needs. Which means we have to prioritize our needs and I really like some of the priorities that the super has highlighted. Having deans of discipline and after school transportation are incredibly important and never should have been done away with. Some of his others though leave me scratching my head like the implementation of testing coordinators at every school, which seems like something assistant principals use to do and the dismantling of our librarian corps.

Having a librarian in our schools, especially for a district with a reading problem shouldn’t be optional. The super says he is giving principals the choice but funny he didn’t give them the choice about having a dean and ISSP teacher or not (full disclosure, I like those positions) so isn’t that a bit hypocritical?

The thing is we could pay for the librarians too, if the district thought they were important enough to have anyways.  The district is required to keep 3% of its money in reserves about 25 million dollars. The super said it would cost about 7 million to put librarians in all the district’s schools. Then according to the Times Union the board wants to keep 7% in reserves, that is about 33 million more than it is required to. Friends that means the district could pay for the librarians and still keep double the amount they are supposed to.

Then the super said our librarian bench is shallow, that it would be hard to find enough librarians to put in all our schools but this goes to a bigger problem I think we have and that’s why aren’t we being proactive. Why aren’t we beating the bushes to find librarians, world-class teachers and exemplary school leaders? It’s like we are content to sit back and use TFA, an ever-revolving door of rookie teachers, to let our librarian bench die out and to promote people who can pass a test, some will be great but if past is prologue then we know more than few won’t be.

Maybe we should take a little bit of that extra 33 million dollars we are keeping in the couch cushions and use it to go out and find the best and the brightest and to bring them to Duval. Lord knows some of our best and brightest have left for greener pastures because of previous administrations mismanagement.

Finally where I think us having a shallow librarian bench is debatable, it is irrelevant because if you have been following the news you know it looks like the city through its budget cuts is going to make more than a few librarians available. 

At the end of the day there will be one reason and one reason only that many of our schools go without a librarian and that's the district doesn't think they are important enough to have.


  1. I think you were in the same room I was in when the Super gave his budget presentation at the TU building? I distinctly remember him saying that the state could take over the school district if they used any of the required 3% reserves. Maybe you want don't want an elected school board, maybe you want Rick Scott or Gary Chartrand to hand pick the school board, but I think it is a pretty good idea that they aren't going to put themselves in a situation where they could be taken over. Being critical of them is fine, but don't be critical of them wanting to stay democratically elected or financially responsible.

  2. From what I understand, Chartrand was instrumental in bringing Vitti here and Ashley Smith Juarez is his protege, furthermore, Smith Juarez and Jason Fischer were both endorsed by Jeb Bush, so we already have wolves in the hen house. I think them keeping double what they are required to keep is more than being financially prudent which is what they could have while paying for librarians.

  3. As a former media specialist in Duval County I find Vitti's copout to be infuriating. There are tons of qualified media specialists that have been let go over the last few years. Why not start there? Because it's not a priority. That's why.

    It's been a vicious cycle for librarians/media specialists in Duval County.