Parents weigh in on school budget

Jacksonville Public Education Fund hosts workshop for Duval Co. budget

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An organization gave parents and students a chance to weigh in on the new budget for next school year in Duval County. The district is preparing to approve it later this summer.

Duval County parents got a chance to hear from the school superintendent, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Thursday night at a workshop, about how he plans to spend money on their students for the upcoming year.

Vitti met with parents at the budget workshop at the Times-Union Center Thursday night. Dr. Vitti and school board members presented their spending to parents. In total, the budget will be about $1.7 billion.

At the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, engaging the community in school matters is the ultimate goal.

Vitti said the majority of the money will go to salaries and services. The superintendent told Channel 4 Thursday night that many cuts made in the past are now a thing of the past.

"Successful schools comes from a partnership between the school districts, superintendent, staff school board and the community, and if either one of those sides isn't doing what they need to be doing, the whole thing falls apart," said JPEF President, Trey Csar.

Having community advocates for our district's budget is the focus, since this year's budget will be approved in the coming months.

Csar said a big change in funding this year has to do with school staffing positions.

"Well, I think what you'll see in this budget more than any other budget in the past is a focus on developing the whole child," said Vitti. "It's putting a music and art teacher in every elementary school. It's restoring magnet transportation, it's reducing bus transportation for students so that they don't have to walk as far as they once did. It's expanding elective classes for our students. So at the end of the day, not only is the education as far as reading, math, science and writing enhanced, but our electives and the development of the whole child."

The superintendent said the workshop Thursday night gave him the chance to explain the district's decision-making process for the 2013-14 budget, and more importantly, gives the people it affects a chance to be a part of that.

The school board and superintendent have been working together to create the budget for the past three months. It must be approved by the end of this month.

"Having community advocates be informed about what's going on and be prepared and ready and willing to voice their opinions is what makes the process move forward," Csar said.

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