The Duval County School Board was recently presented with the final report from Education Resource Strategies, which for the last year has been working with the district to conduct a comprehensive resource analysis.
ERS, a Massachusetts based non profit, has partnered with large urban school districts around the country—such as Charlotte, Baltimore and Los Angeles—to build strategies for improved instruction and performance.
“As standards for achievement rise and resource levels fall, DCPS must build on current efforts and be more deliberate than ever about the way it uses people, time and money to support student success,” said ERS Director Jonathan Travers. “Our objective was to show how DCPS, even with its low funding level, can reduce costs, rethink existing resource use, and make limited new investments to improve teaching effectiveness and student performance overall.”
Duval County Public Schools, in partnership with the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, engaged ERS in the fall of 2010. The audit cost the district $550,000. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund contributed $100,000 and raised an additional $100,000.
“This study provided the district with valuable insights on how to take existing money and focus on more efficiency to improve the outcomes for our students,” said Duval County Public Schools’ Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals. “Benchmarking our district against other large urban districts provided a critical analysis of our funding, staffing levels, planning and instructional time.”
Among the report’s key findings:
Gary Chartrand, chairman of the board of directors for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund called the completion of the report a bold step toward improvement.
“It’s not easy to put yourself and your organization under the microscope for this type of analysis,” Chartrand said. “We look forward to supporting the district as it takes action on these findings.”
Chartrand, who is executive chairman of Acosta Sales and Marketing and also sits on the Florida Board of Education, said he knows first-hand how valuable it can be for organizations to bring in outside experts to evaluate policies and practices.
“The superintendent and school board members should be applauded for undertaking this work. This short-term investment will yield significant, long-term, positive change for our district and the kids of Duval County, just as it did for our business,” Chartrand said.