Gardiner Scholarship funding increase begins to move forward

Lisa Buie

Hundreds of education choice advocates rallied at the State Capitol Jan. 21 to ask lawmakers to expand access to the Gardiner Scholarship program. Gov. Ron DeSantis told the crowd that he and lawmakers are committed to increasing funding again this year.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education today approved a $42 million funding increase to the Gardiner Scholarship program which would boost by slightly more than 28 percent last year’s allocation of $147.9 million.

The scholarship currently serves more than 13,000 students with unique abilities. Approximately another 3,500 remain on a wait list, despite the Legislature’s agreement last year to provide an additional $23 million in funding.

Created in 2014, the program is named for former Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, who led the legislative effort to create the program, and his family. It differs from other state scholarships in that it allows parents to personalize their child’s education by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers.

Approved expenses include tuition, therapy, curriculum, technology and a college savings account. Unspent money can roll over from year to year.

Gardiner Scholarship amounts vary according to grade and county. The average amount for most students in the 2019-20 school year is $10,400.

The budget proposal must win approval from the corresponding House committees, as well as the full House and Senate, to be included in the final proposed budget sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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Martina January 29, 2020 - 9:14 am

Education is very important for every child in The United States of America ,no matter the color of your skin. a child is child who needs education, but my situation is that I want my daughter in a charter School, but there is not enough spaces in my area, I been trying for three years and not luck and why not help public school to develop a better program to expand a students culture.
thank you.

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