Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Groups Meet to Speak out on the Future of Education; A Couple of Initiatives Are Raising Dropout Age and Increasing Local Control of Budget

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Groups Meet to Speak out on the Future of Education; A Couple of Initiatives Are Raising Dropout Age and Increasing Local Control of Budget

Article excerpt

Byline: TOPHER SANDERS

Jacksonville organizations interested in having a strong education system agreed Friday to take an array of issues back to their leadership to see if the groups can join forces on pushing those matters here and in Tallahassee.

The organizations met during the first Jacksonville's Education Legislative Agenda meeting at the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership. Save Duval Schools, the Community Foundation, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and the United Way of Northeast Florida sponsored the meeting.

Deborah Gianoulis, chairwoman of Save Duval Schools, said the purpose of the meeting was to hold the state accountable for public education.

"Florida needs to fund quality public schools to build the economic base that will produce jobs," Gianoulis said.

Some of the organizations represented at the meeting were the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce, NAACP, The Bridge of Northeast Florida, The Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida, Publix groceries, Early Learning Coalition, state Department of Juvenile Justice, Communities in Schools, Duval Parent Teacher Association and the Jacksonville Urban League.

The organizations agreed to ask the leadership of their respective organizations about adding their voices to five issues:

- Raising the dropout age to 18.

- Having equal accountability for private schools receiving students with vouchers.

- Making high schools accountable under the new grading formula and not the old one, which only considers Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores.

- Reducing the amount of unfunded and under-funded mandates.

- Increasing the district's local control of its budget.

Members of the Chamber of Commerce would not commit to opposing Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposal, which calls for cuts in state education spending, including a $91. …

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