Florida’s Duval County School District is losing students to charter schools, and the district’s entrepreneurial superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, is fighting back.
But his efforts to regain lost market share raise an important question: Should districts place maximizing student enrollment over ensuring all children have access to the learning options that best meet their needs?
Most school boards and district superintendents want to maximize district enrollment, but this is not the best way to ensure student success. K-12 students today are incredibly diverse. School districts have never been able to meet the needs of all students, which is why parents are demanding more school choice options and flocking to charter schools, private schools, virtual schools, and homeschooling.
The Duval school district is the sixth largest in Florida and 22nd largest in the nation. Its enrollment has dropped from 126,873 in 2003-04 to 119,188 today, while enrollment of charter schools within the district has increased from 609 to 7,795 over the same period. Duval’s private schools now enroll more than 24,000 students.