Saturday, January 8, 2011

Duval educators, school leaders complain of mandates from the state

Duval County education leaders want fewer unfunded or underfunded state mandates and more flexibility to decide how best to educate students.

That was a large part of the message the Duval County School Board and Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals gave the Duval Legislative Delegation when they met Thursday to discuss education.

Pratt-Dannals pointed to a new requirement for the district to implement a policy to fight teen dating violence and abuse. The law will require the purchase of a curriculum and the tracking of data. That, along with other health education requirements, is expected to cost the district about $522,000.

While Pratt-Dannals said a policy against teen dating violence is a good thing, it’s not a requirement that came with enough funding to cover it. And it’s an issue that mostly reaches outside of schools.

The district is expecting a $92 million shortfall for the 2011-12 school year, in part because of state mandates, higher costs and a reduction in revenue, Pratt-Dannals said.

Pratt-Dannals also said that the state and federal oversight process, called Differentiated Accountability, which requires a lot of state oversight for low-performing schools, costs about $20 million. And now teachers are getting coaching in math, reading and other subjects from the school, district and state levels.

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