Dr. Nikolai Vitti holds informal 'chat' with parents, students


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Informal conversations turned into impromptu arguments for the Duval County Schools superintendent.

Jacksonville's public school leader took questions from parents and even a student during a new event called "Chat with the Supe."

News4Jax spoke with Dr. Nikolai Vitti just before he took questions for about an hour. He said the first of 11 scheduled "chats" would be about anything the crowd wanted to discuss, as long as it didn't get personal.

"We'll (have a) completely open forum," Vitti said. "Whatever is on the minds of stakeholders in Jacksonville regarding Duval County Public Schools, or education issues nationally, statewide, I'm willing to answer them."

Vitti began his tour of Duval County locations at the Barnes & Noble book store at the Town Center. He took individual questions from people gathered in "the Nook," but told people he would not answer questions that didn't apply broadly.

READ: List of informal chats with Vitti across Duval County 

An Atlantic Coast High School student voiced her concerns about spending time on touch-screen TV monitors in her classroom.

"What was (the) reason for buying that, when I barely have a seat in my English class?" the student asked. "I have to get there 10 minutes early to have a seat."

"To answer your question directly, those dollars could not be used for books or teachers," Vitti told the student. "I believe, for the most part, teachers and students and parents are appreciative of the fact that DCPS will be completely wireless by the end of this school year."

By the end of the forum, Vitti had addressed one of the issues he anticipated: Assessments and school grades.

He told News4Jax he has high standards himself, and hopes to move the district in the right direction.

"On average, we educate children who are more diverse and poor than students who are in surrounding areas, so its likely that our results will be lower," Vitti said. "But it's also, ultimately, a baseline year, with a new assessment and new standards, and I expect us to be better every year from this point."

When parents sounded off about the new FSA, the assessments that replaced FCAT, Vitti said he hears and shares their frustration.

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