Q: We are quickly approaching the General Election, when the half-cent sales tax to improve Duval County Schools will be on the ballot. Can you share any insight?
A: This is a big referendum and it allows voters the chance to weigh in and decide how we are going to invest in our students and our schools in the coming years. We have the oldest schools in the state and we do not have the benefit of impact fees or additional sales tax funding like some of our surrounding counties, so the revenue from this proposed sales tax is critical. For more information and details, readers can check out the website www.jaxpef.org.

Q: What’s the latest on this school year (as of interview date of Sept. 16)?
A: Everything is going well so far. I have visited all the schools in District 7 and all the principals are pleased with the return to campus. Students are happy to be back on campus. 

On Sept. 14, we began the planned phase approach towards getting all students not enrolled in Duval Homeroom or virtual school back in brick and mortar schools five days a week. First the sixth graders went back to campus on Sept. 14 and by Sept. 30, all students will have returned. 

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It’s important to note that due to approximately 30 percent of our students being enrolled in Duval Homeroom and virtual school, our brick and mortar schools are not presently at full capacity. With only about 70 percent of students on campus, class sizes are naturally reduced. 

Also, football games resumed on Sept. 11. The big Mandarin vs. Atlantic Coast High School game unfortunately only made it through one quarter before being rained out. Stadiums are limited to 30 percent capacity and tickets must be purchased online at www.gofan.co prior to attending.

Q: Where would parents find the latest news on COVID cases in the schools?
A: Parents can track cases of COVID on our COVID dashboard, https://c19sitdash.azurewebsites.net.

Q: What is the district working on at this time? 

A: The school board has just started working on its new five year strategic plan. 

I’ll hold a community meeting on Thursday, Oct. 29 at Greenland Pines at 6 p.m. to share the board’s vision as well as discuss the sales tax referendum. In fact, Greenland Pines is slated to receive major renovations with this proposed revenue. The meeting will be both in person and online; check my Facebook page for the link to the online meeting if you would like to join this meeting virtually.

Q: How can our readers contact you?

A: They can email me at HersheyL@duvalschools.org or call me at (904) 316-3609.

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