Expanding services to overage students

15% of Duval County students are 2 are more years behind grade level

DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. - Duval County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, wants to expand the programs available for Jacksonville's overage high school students.

Vitti told Channel 4 Monday night that an expansion of services like those available at The Bridge of Northeast Florida would serve more overage students in Duval County.

The move to expand services would cost The Bridge of Northeast Florida to confront many issues with at-risk teens.

"Pregnancy, drug abuse and a whole host of issues that challenge our students," said Shariffa Spicer, VP External Affairs at The Bridge of Northeast Florida.  

Spicer told Channel 4 that one of the challenges The Bridge faces is educating students who are not at grade level. Spicer said students at The Bridge get a second chance through one-on-one instruction, community mentors, job training, health and social enrichment offered at the facility.

Vitti said 15 percent of the district's students are currently two or more years overage. He said expanding the services will allow more overage students to stay at their current school and get the help they need. 

Vitti hopes expanding resources will improve the county's almost 4 percent drop out rate. 

"We're recognizing that 'one size fits all' does not work for all kids, so you have to think a little bit out of the box, and in a sense, remove students from a regular learning environment, but not disenfranchise them from what they would normally experience in a high school environment," said Vitti.

Vitti's recommendations to expand services that are offered at The Bridge of Northeast Florida passed seven to zero Monday night.

"I believe we are going to see all the indicators move in the right direction," said Vitti. "We should see attendance improve, we should see students catch up on credits, we should see less referrals and suspensions, but most importantly, we should see more kids graduating. Anytime we talk about expanding and reaching out to a broader base of children, that is a wonderful effort."

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