Radical spending and falling enrollment in Duval Schools

First, let me warn you, we are going to talk about math here. Second, you will want to be sitting down when you see where the cost to educate a single child has gone in our local school system. It’s not pretty.

Today, taxpayers spend a staggering $19,648 every year for every student in the traditional Duval County Public School System (DCPS). Compare that to tuition and fees for a college student at the University of North Florida of just $14,605. A single year of public school in Duval is a whopping 34% higher than a year of college at UNF!

You may find that shocking, but that’s just the beginning of the bad news. DCPS costs have skyrocketed in recent years. The per student cost in 2016 was $13,487 — a 45% increase in just six years. During this same time period, attendance in traditional Duval public schools has decreased by over 5,000 students. As the saying goes, “people vote with their feet,” and many are apparently choosing other educational options. Already, nearly one in three Duval students has chosen other options, including private and charter schools, or home schooling.

It’s hard to support any claim that we are getting our money’s worth. Duval is rated second to last in performance among the state’s seven largest school districts. According to the Florida Department of Education, Duval is ranked an unimpressive 29th among all Florida counties, with neighboring St. Johns as the number one in academics statewide.

What is the DCPS solution to this disappointing performance? More of your money, of course. Instead of critically examining its failures, and applying creativity and innovative solutions, they want more of your hard-earned dollars.

In a few short weeks, voters will decide if another $81 Million a year out of the pockets of local property owners will provide the solution we have all waiting for. Perhaps, we should consider that the old ways of providing education have become outdated, bureaucratic and inefficient, and look for answers that will truly move us forward. We should challenge the idea that money is the solution, in and of itself.

*All statistics used here originate from the Florida Department of Education and Duval County Public Schools published reports.

“Cost” as described here is determined by total annual revenue divided by total traditional student enrollment as provided by DCPS.


Cost of UNF Tuition:


Florida Department of Education Statistics:


Duval County Public Schools Budget Summary:


Scott Shine

Scott Shine is a former Jacksonville, Florida businessman who has led communications, research and strategic planning efforts for Blue Cross Blue Shield, Barnett Banks, The Nemours Children’s Clinic and Bank of America. Shine has served in several leadership positions with the City of Jacksonville, including being a member of the Jacksonville Ethics Commission, the Jacksonville Waterways Commission and the Duval County School Board.


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