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Funding

family empowerment scholarship

Senate committee passes amended scholarship bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a bill that would create a new state-funded program to eliminate a waiting list of 13,000 for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families. SB 7070, which would establish the Family Empowerment Scholarship, previously passed two other committees. But the Appropriations Committee approved a significant “strike-all” amendment by the bill’s sponsor, Education Committee Chair Manny Diaz (R-Miami). The changes include increasing the income eligibility limit for families to 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($77,250 for a family of four), up from the previous version’s 260 percent, while giving priority to those families...

Money is fungible, not magical

Critics have spilled considerable ink attacking Florida’s proposed Family Empowerment Scholarship. The voucher would cost about $100 million and allow at least 15,000 low- and working-class students to attend private schools. “I’m afraid it will do damage to the regular public schools in the state of Florida,” said Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee), who opposed “diverting” money in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) from public schools to private schools. “DeSantis private school voucher plan robs Florida public schools of needed money,” exclaimed the Palm Beach Post editorial board. “The plan would divert money from public education in a state that already ranks...
school choice

House committee approves charter funding bill

A bill that would require Florida school districts to share tax revenues with charter schools is headed to the House floor. The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday voted 15-2 to approve a package of tax issues (PCB WMC 19-02), a section of which addresses charter schools being denied funding from voter-approved local tax referendums. In November, voters in eight Florida counties approved extra taxes for public schools. Four of the counties – Alachua, Lee, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach – made formal decisions prior to the election not to share the revenue from tax increases with charter schools,...
Vance Aloupis

podcastED: Rep. Vance Aloupis on early childhood education, school choice

Rep. Vance Aloupis, R-Miami, narrowly beat his Democratic opponent in 2018 to represent Florida’s 115th District, a seat held by former Education Committee Chair Michael Bileca. One of many freshman members serving this year on House education committees, Aloupis wants to become a legislative leader in early childhood development. The Children’s Movement of Florida’s chief executive officer is carrying HB 1027 this session, which requires the state’s Office of Early Learning to develop training and course standards for school readiness program providers. “We have done a disservice to our public education system, and more importantly our children, by not professionalizing early...
charter schools

Death, taxes and K-12 funding disputes

Two new studies illuminate Florida K-12 funding. The first, from Mike Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, includes this chart: So, for those of you squinting at your iPhone, the east-west axis is tracking the percent change in enrollment between 2000 and 2015, while the north-south axis is showing the constant dollar percentage increase in per pupil funding. There obviously is a negative relationship between rapid enrollment growth and high levels of per pupil spending growth. Most of the states with very large increases saw their student population shrink. Florida looks...

House, Senate far apart on school funding

Jim Saunders / News Service of Florida TALLAHASSEE --- Florida House and Senate leaders will go into budget negotiations hundreds of millions of dollars apart on spending for the state’s public schools. House Republicans on Wednesday released an initial proposal that calls for a $579.3 million increase next year in the key part of the budget for public schools, a 2.75 percent bump per student. That came a day after Senate leaders proposed a $1.1 billion increase, or 4.71 percent per student. Funding for what is known as the Florida Education Finance Program, or FEFP, is always one of the most closely...

Reviewing the past as a path to the future

Editor’s note: March 2 marked the 20th anniversary of the legislative session in which Florida Gov. Jeb Bush launched a series of K-12 reforms that transformed education throughout the state. (No, I can’t believe it’s been 20 years either.) Beginning today, as the 2019 Florida legislative session is set to open, and continuing for several months, redefinED will examine aspects of Bush’s K-12 education revolution. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It was 20 years ago today When Gov. Jeb Bush taught the ed reform band to play They’ve been going in and out of style But they’re guaranteed to get sued at trial So may I introduce to you The...

Applications for Florida Tax Credit Scholarship remain strong

Interest in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship is continuing to surge in the wake of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Feb. 15 request for creation of a new state-funded program to ensure demand from lower-income and working class parents for educational choice can be met. At the time of the governor’s proposal for an “equal opportunity scholarship,” Step Up For Students, the nonprofit that administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, was averaging 1,550 new student applications a day. As of Thursday, Step Up, which hosts this blog, had received 25,299 applications for 36,026 new students, of which 10,824 have been found eligible. Applications from...