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Clay County schools hiring fewer teachers

Fewer students attending Clay County Schools

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ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Parents in Clay County are reacting to a plan that will see fewer teachers and staff in schools next year. The changes are coming because there are fewer students attending Clay County Schools.

A lot of parents may be worried to hear about these changes in positions, but Clay County officials say class sizes won't be impacted.

The district ranks second in the state for the percentage of all of the money that makes it from the district level to the classroom. Officials say they remain committed to making the best plans for students' education.

These changes are a result of a unanimous vote between Clay County School Board last week.

There are about 34,000 students in the district; 500 less students compared to last year.

This results in the district getting $1.8 million less from the state.

"We have very strategically looked at every school, every program, and every service to ensure that our students would not be impacted in any way," said Diane Kornegay, the assistant superintendent for instruction.

Usually 250 teachers are lost each year through retirement and attrition. So this year, the district will hire about 170 teachers to be able to reduce the 80 positions. No current teachers or staff will lose their job because of the funding cuts.

"We're going to make sure that we continue to meet class size for students and ensure that the programs and services that are needed are provided," said Kornegay.

School officials say there are two reasons for the drop in the number of students. There are a lot of military families in the county. Also, some parts of the county are growing while others are not.

Despite the staff changes, some say they've always liked what Clay County Schools have done.

"We had a great experience at Clay County with Oakleaf school because it was brand new," said Melissa Arms, who has a daughter attending school in the area "She got all the experience that we intended her to have."