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District shares budget challenges and impact with Team Duval employees

April 26, 2024 – Team Duval employees received an email Friday afternoon regarding measures the district is taking — including reducing staff and increasing budgeted class sizes — in the face of severe budget challenges. The full note from Superintendent Dr. Dana Kriznar is below.

Dear Team Duval,

We are in the early stages of constructing our budget for next year, and I want to share with you that we are facing some extraordinary financial challenges leading to reductions in positions at the district and in schools, as well as increases in the budgeted size of classes for all grade levels next year.

I know that many of you are learning that you will be personally impacted by these decisions, and I want you to know that our human resources department is committed to working with each of you. We have always been a team that supports and cares for each other, and I encourage anyone personally impacted to take advantage of the support of our HR department and Employee Assistance Program as you navigate this transition.

To all our teachers, counselors, and paraprofessionals: In normal circumstances, the decision to budget for an increase in class sizes would be the last of my recommendations.  However, the financial situation is so challenging, it really leaves no other option to reach a balanced budget under the financial challenges we face.  

For your awareness and understanding, here are more details and context surrounding our finances and the decisions required to balance our budget for next year.

Significant variables driving our reductions

First, COVID-related relief funds from the federal government have supported the district’s annual budget in recent years. Those funds, which supported 720 positions, are no longer available to the district. Some of those positions will be transferred into the normal annual operating budget, but some will be eliminated.

Second, the district continues to feel the impact of declining enrollment as school choice options have increased in recent years. 

The district is primarily funded through state and local sources based on the number of students it serves. However, homeowners are taxed based on the projected number of students being served in all forms of public education, including private school vouchers, charter schools, and traditional schools.

Primarily due to the increase in private school vouchers, the number of funded students (including private school and charter school students) in Duval County has increased from about 130,000 in 2019-20 to an estimated 142,000 in 2024-25. 

While the total number of funded students has increased, the district’s share for traditional schools has decreased from about 108,000 in 2019-20 to a projection of 98,000 next year.  So, while taxes have increased to fund the rapid growth of the total number of students, our share has decreased due to our falling enrollment. With the absence of the federal ESSER funds, this decrease of 10,000 students over a five-year period cannot be absorbed without decreases to our staffing and increases to our budgeted class sizes. 

Impact on district and traditional school positions

While we are in the early stages of budgeting, initial estimates are that 11% of district level positions (199 positions) will be eliminated, and 6% of school-based positions (507 positions) will be eliminated.  As the district finance team works with school principals on the final budget, those numbers could fluctuate.

Many of these positions are in roles where we have vacancies, and again, we will work with all impacted employees to transition you to a new role wherever possible.  

Impact on class sizes

We are also projecting a higher average class size for budgeting purposes.  These class sizes are used for budgeting purposes, and actual class sizes may be different.

With the absence of the federal COVID-relief funds, budgeted class sizes out of operational revenue for next year will change as follows:

  • Kindergarten through third grade — from 20 students this year to 22 students in 2024-25.
  • Fourth and fifth grade — from 24 students this year to 26 students in 2024-25.
  • Grades six through eight academic core classes—from 26 students this year to 26.5 students in 2024-25 with a reduction from an eight-period schedule to a seven-period schedule.
  • Grades nine through 12 — from 27 students this year to 29.5 for 2024-25.

Our general revenue staff allocation model for budgeting purposes also includes changes that will result in reductions to school counselor positions, paraprofessionals, and other school roles.

Keep in mind that these staffing allocations are those associated with our general revenue, which is our main revenue source for the district.  We also receive allocations for exceptional student education, federal Title I funds, funding for college acceleration programs, and other sources which we also use to manage our average class sizes. 

What will happen next?

We will continue to work with school principals to refine the final recommended budget. As we do every year, we will present the balanced budget to the board, and we will follow all state rules for publication of the budget, notifications to the public, and public meetings over the summer.  Our budget becomes final when the board takes final action. This is anticipated to occur in September.

While this is not the news I was hoping to bring as we approach the end of the school year, I know that one of Team Duval’s greatest strengths is resilience. Through whatever adversity we face, I am confident that we will continue meeting the needs of our students and families.  While we must make difficult decisions to operate with the funding we have, my pledge is to do all I can to support all of you, especially those of you personally impacted, to the best of my ability.


Dr. Dana Kriznar

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