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New investment in helping overage students

SFF StudentSchool's out, but this is set to be a busy summer for Duval County Public Schools, as it undergoes a reorganization at the district level and defines a budget for the new school year. At Monday night's School Board meeting, some of that work began to get under way.

One of the most exciting developments is the significant expansion of services to overage students in our district.

Students who are two or more years overage for their grade - meaning they have been held back more than once - are at extreme risk of dropping out. That's why the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, in partnership with the Learning to Finish Collaborative and the Duval County Public Schools Office of Multiple Pathways, spent three years researching and investing in a pilot program to serve as a model for serving the thousands of students Duval who face this situation.

Last year, the new Schools for the Future Academy opened at The Bridge of Northeast Florida, representing a unique new school-community partnership and approach for serving some of our city's most vulnerable students. The school has shown that its students are performing much better academically and behaviorally, thanks to personalized academic paths, access to counselors and other supports provided by The Bridge.

You can read more about Schools for the Future here, and more about the Learning to Finish collaborative here.

Impressed by the partnership and results shown by Schools for the Future, Dr. Vitti recommended taking the program to scale by creating overage schools inside of seven middle and high schools with the highest numbers of overage students called Bridge to Success. The district will be partnering with The Bridge, Communities in Schools and I'm a Star Foundation to provide the critical wraparound supports overage students need. We commend the district for their work to improve services for overage students. This time next year, we are certain that these services will help lead to more Duval County students than ever earn high school diplomas.

-- Pam Paul