Despite the efforts of private schools and some lawmakers, the Florida Legislature this spring didn’t resolve concerns that more private schools could end up paying for their high school students’ dual enrollment courses.
Last year, the Legislature changed the way the state funds dual enrollment courses, requiring school districts to pick up the tab for courses their students took on college campuses. That led to concerns that private schools could face similar charges, potentially reducing their students’ access.
Potential remedies were floated during the recently concluded session, but didn’t stick.
The House, for example, proposed adding language to state law ensuring private schools would be exempt from any of those payment provisions.
Private-school supporters spent the final week of the session emailing and calling legislators. But in the end, the plan to exempt private schools from the payment requirement did not prevail, nor did separate
legislative efforts by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.
The final legislation did make some tweaks, though. It provided, for example, that the Legislature could cover the cost of dual enrollment courses taken over the summer.
While it’s not clear what the impact will be for private school students, James Herzog, the associate director for education at the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he was worried it could create a “chilling effect” if more colleges start billing private schools for the costs of dual enrollment courses.
Howard Burke of the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools said parents of private school students should be able to enroll their children in the same college-credit courses as their public school peers.
“They’re paying the same taxes the public school child’s parents are paying that have dual enrollment,” he said. “They should have equal access.”