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Back to a busy school year

It's hard to believe the school year is almost here!

At JPEF, the summer has flown by as we gear up for the launch of the ONE by ONE campaign, which aims to involve the whole city in creating a unified vision for improving public education. Find out more about that here.
 
For students and educators in Duval County Public Schools, this summer has been a busy time, especially with expanded summer school options that are a part of the district's Read It Forward Jax initiative.

Now, our attention turns to the upcoming school year, which begins one week from today: Monday, Aug. 22 in Duval County, as well as St. Johns and Baker counties. More than ever, the 2011-12 school year will be a critical one, with changes to magnet schools on tap and another looming budget deficit in Tallahassee.

It is essential that back-to-school time is noticed not just by students and parents, but by every member of the community.

Why? Start with the economy. To get ready for school, many parents and students are preparing for the school year by buying supplies. Tax-free weekend starts runs through today, Monday, Aug. 15. (This handy PDF has more information about the retail items included in tax-free weekend: http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/tips/pdf/2011taxholidayQAs.pdf) It's a crucial time for many local retailers as they struggle to get back on their feet economically.

Meanwhile, there are numerous efforts under way to provide school supplies for the many students in need in our community. One way you can help is through a school supply drive for homeless children. Click here for more information.

For parents and students who are need of supplies, the First Baptist Church of Oakland puts on a multi-day event every year called Youth Explosion. Find out more information about these free events at www.theoak.org.
At businesses, the new school year signals a busy time for employees. The Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce is encouraging members to remind employees about the importance of the first day of school and provide greater flexibility for employees during the first two weeks.

"You can help with the transition by reinforcing the importance of day one, remind employees to plan schedules ahead of time, and when appropriate, offer flexible work schedules," the Chamber wrote its members this week.

Here's hoping that businesses in Jacksonville follow suit. Easing the transition for parents means a better school year for their children.

For those who do not have children, there are still ways to get involved with ensuring the success of our youth. Click here to find out more about how you can make a difference in a school or in the life of a child this school year. For specific information about mentoring, click here.
 
--Deirdre