School Board members and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti announced Tuesday that Duval County Public Schools is the recipient of a competitive $32.6 million Qualified Zone Academy Bond.
Qualified Zone Academy Bonds are a financing option sponsored by the federal government, administered through the Florida Department of Education. Under this program, financial support through the community can be leveraged. For example, the district can borrow with no interest, $900,000 for every $100,000 received through community match.
Community partners are an integral part of this process in helping to fill the gaps in our Strategic Plan, according to a news release from the district.
"This new administration has committed to improving access to technology for all our students, and the receiving of this grant speaks to delivering on that commitment," Vitti said. "Students have become digital learners, and this technology will enhance their opportunities for success in a technology-driven world."
The Florida Department of Education has allocated $29 million to Duval County Public Schools under the QZAB program. This, combined with the business and community support, will bring the total to $32.6 million. The funds received through QZAB will dramatically increase technology access for students and teachers through iPads, laptops, multimedia carts and computer labs.
Duval County Public Schools will begin implementing their four-phase plan to create 21st century learning environments in January. Phase one is expected to run from January to June. Phase two is expected to begin in July and run to December 2013. Phase three is planned to run from January to June 2014, and the final phase is projected to run from July to December 2014.
"Community partnerships and support are essential to the success of Duval County Public Schools," said Board Chairman Fel Lee. "Community and business donations allow us to provide our students with the tools and resources necessary to make them competitive in post-secondary education and the workforce. We are grateful to those who help make opportunities like these possible."
Each stage of the plan will be implemented at select schools of all grade levels that have been identified as target schools by either serving 35 percent or more students on Free and Reduced Lunch or having an established academy or magnet program. The plan consists of several steps including initiating professional development among principals and teachers, deploying digital devices to schools and completing infrastructure conversions to wireless access.