2016 School Choice Expo: What you need to know

1/11/2016

The 2016 School Choice Expo was as lively — and frantic — as ever this past Saturday.

Tens of thousands of Duval County parents bustled around the Prime Osborne Convention Center exploring hundreds of booths, with each booth spotlighting a Jacksonville area school. The feedback we heard most from parents, often as they were wrangling a child or struggling to read the tiny print of the event map, was “There’s just too much here”, “This whole process is totally overwhelming”, or the ever-popular “I don’t really know where to start.” With all the information coming towards parents, choosing the next step in your child’s education can feel uncertain and confusing.

As decision deadlines loom, many Duval parents could use some guidance in how to make sure their child will be in the right school at the beginning of Fall 2016. Here are some steps to make sure you’re on the right track, with links to resources to inform your decision. Click here for a comprehensive report on School Choice and how to navigate school options in Duval County.

Do your research with the right questions. As we all know, finding the information we want isn’t always easy. Knowing what questions are important before you begin researching school options is key to avoid wasted time and unnecessary frustration. Click here for a list of important factors to consider when choosing a school, questions to have in mind for school administrators, and steps to take to get critical information.

Know your options. With education terminology constantly changing, it can be difficult to keep up with trends in education and school types even if you are a heavily involved parent. Knowing the distinctions between neighborhood public schools, Choice schools, magnet programs, dedicated magnet schools, and charter schools, gives you a better idea of what will be the best fit for you and your child. Click here for simple, straightforward, and unbiased descriptions of each of these school types.

Find your school. Once you know what school types are available, what your options are based on schools in your zone and schools outside of your zoned area, what needs your child and your family require, and what application procedures are applicable, you are ready to weigh your options. Use the School Search function under the Learn tab of our website to search for any school in Duval County, including charter and magnet schools, to compare their qualities such as academic performance, school grade, enrollment demographics, location, and contact information. The right school for your child is out there and you can find it!

Click here for a link to Duval County’s School Choice website, which includes steps to apply for magnet and choice schools, a timeline of important dates, and a tool to search for schools to fit your child’s needs.

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