JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During her first 'state of the schools address,' Duval County School Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said parents should be encouraged by the district's progress and says things will continue to improve.
"I am not only hopeful, but I am confident that Duval Public Schools is headed in the right direction," Greene said during Friday's speech.
Her address, which faculty and staff gathered for at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, was more of a celebration of achievements. It was also a pep rally calling together the community to stand behind its students.
Greene, who took the role of superintendent on July 1, said the district is just 1 percentage point away from becoming an overall "A" score.
"We are closing the gap between Duval public county schools and the state of Florida. We had our highest graduation rate last year," Greene said.
Several factors weigh heavily on the grade the Florida Department of Education gives school districts, including graduation rates, middle school performance tests and the number of students taking college courses.
Overall, 49 percent of Florida schools were given an A or B grade, while 87 percent received an A, B or C grade.
Student behavior and campus safety
Greene said down were the number of referrals, which are written by teachers or staff members to discipline students for inappropriate behavior.
"Just three years ago we were close to hitting 100,000 referrals (annually), which means almost one referral per student," Greene said. "We reduced it by 10,000."
She hopes to lessen the number of out-of-school suspensions.
Although Greene did not mention gun violence or the recent shooting after a Raines High School football game, she did address school safety. She pointed to adding security cameras and more lighting to school parking lots.
Greene said safety is also a community effort and would like more input from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.