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Saturday, January 27, 2024

My letter to Superintendent Kriznar about the schedule change

So I got a form letter from the super. What you thought when they respond they really care about what you say? Oh, your childlike sense of optimism is adorable. I doubt she wrote it at all. Where she tried to justify throwing staff under the bus for specious reasons. So I told her about how wrong she was.  Her letter to me is below, though if you want your own copy, send her a note saying you disapprove of the schedule change. Because then you, too, can have your own personal copy.

 Hello, and thank you for getting back to me. I am going to be blunt, and I know sometimes that people think blunt can be rude or disrespectful, and that is not my internet.

 The district may have saved some parents from being parents, i.e., providing childcare, but your reasons for doing so are specious at best, and the cost too high. This is compounded by the fact the district will not have come close to solving what the district really and seemingly only cares about, and that is testing more kids. 

 The district took a sledgehammer to a problem that needed a scalpel, and in the process, the district made things worse.

 The district did not solve parents' childcare problems, and Wright's letters to principals show it was never much of a concern. If the district cared about it, they would eliminate monthly half days, but the district did not, instead just eliminating those days that are a boon for teachers.

 Nor will you solve the testing problems, and it's laughable to think those last four days will capture enough students to make a difference. If some admins think we might, it's time to get better admins.

 No, all the district did was say that schools are daycares, teachers are babysitters, and the district doesn't care about making things easier for teachers or what teachers think. All of that is insulting.

 Superintendent Kriznar, I wonder if there were any serious solutions considered? Did the district consider partnering with our sub-service for that last week? Currently, subs don't work half days and are told to leave. Why not have them work full days that last week to bridge the gap between the end of half days and after-school programs? Or better yet, end all after-school programs the Friday before Labor Day. Once again, if the district truly cared about childcare, then it would get rid of the half days too, and that the district didn't speak volumes. 

 As for testing, and once again, there is no way that last week is going to post schools over the top. A better option would be to work with our local legislatures to get them to change the 95% rule. I understand that is more of a long-term solution, and who knows what the rules will be from year to year, but there may be short-term solutions too. If a student misses a test, test them the next day they return and again maybe partner with our sub service to make a class of sub/proctors. Yes, I am just spitballing, but there has to be a solution that works instead of throwing teachers under the bus to employ a solution that has no chance of working.      

 We will never be the district we can be as long as the administration feels it can marginalize and disrespect staff. Never.

 Chris Guerrieri

Mr. Guerrieri,

I appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts with the board members and me. Feedback from community members, teachers, parents, and our students is important.

As you mentioned, there is a District Calendar Committee which is made up of Duval Teacher United (DTU) members, PTA representatives, teachers, principals, district representatives, and postsecondary partners. Committee members are expected to share the thoughts of their representative groups. After all feedback is received, the committee works collectively to make a recommendation for the calendar. 

The committee acknowledged many concerns from parents, teachers, and principals with the half-day schedule. There were also members of the committee in favor of keeping the half days.  While the committee did not come to a full consensus on a recommendation to restore the last week to full days, it was clear that student attendance was negatively impacted, and the half days created barriers for many families.  After reviewing the feedback and attendance data, the Calendar Committee made a recommendation to change the last week of school to full days.  I supported this recommendation.


I expect every day of school to impact student achievement in some way.  Many grade levels have both state testing and district end of course exams through the last week. These assessments have significant impacts on student grades, student promotion, state accountability outcomes, and teacher evaluations.  We need to provide students with as much instructional time as possible leading up to these assessments, which continue through the last week of school.  In addition to these important assessments, the last week of school allows different opportunities for classes which have completed required assessments.  I am aware of teachers who use the time after testing to connect the year’s content with creative projects, real-world application, and student interests.  The last week of school can certainly impact student outcomes and create opportunities for life-long lessons.


In addition, the extra minutes we have in the schedule allow us some flexibility when we have to make decisions about make-up days when school is cancelled for inclement weather.  For instance, this year we missed 4 days and only had to make up 1 of those days. 


The recommendation was approved by the board at the January board meeting and communicated via website and social media, which is the same process used anytime a calendar is updated.  However, moving forward I will commit to doing better with communicating directly to principals to allow for better communication with teachers ahead of social media posts and website updates.

Historically, high schools have had an early dismissal schedule for the last week of school due to commencement ceremonies, and all schools have had an early dismissal on the last day of school. This practice will remain in place for the 2023/2024 school year.  The exact dismissal times for high schools for the last week, and all schools for the last day of schools will be shared once the logistics are finalized.


Kind regards,


Dr. Dana Kriznar

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