Florida SB1220 Expands School Voucher Program To More Students
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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On Tuesday, February 25, 2020, the Florida Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee voted 5 to 3 to boost and align two state scholarship programs to provide education choice to economically disadvantaged students. The Florida Senate Bill SB 1220, a bill sponsored by Education Committee Chair Manny Diaz, that spells out rules for teacher training and qualifications, with provisions aiming at aligning policies between the new Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) adopted in 2019, serving 18,000 students and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, created in 2001, serving 108,000 students. Both of these scholarship programs serve students from working class and lower income families. The difference is: the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship is funded by corporations that receive a 100% tax credit while the Family Empowerment Scholarship is funded directly by the state education budget. Diaz says SB1220 will eliminate the Tax Credit’s 35,000 student wait list.
Diaz added, “Remember the impetus for the FES is the governor wanted to eliminate the (Florida Tax Credit) wait list. We did that last year. Currently on the wait list, there’s 35,000 students that completed all the way through the application and have been qualified as eligible.”
SB1220 includes an amendment proposed by Education Committee Chairman Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, that would increase the allowed enrollment growth in the Family Empowerment Scholarship. Currently, the program can grow by up to 0.25% of the total public school enrollment each year (about 7,000 students). Chairman Diaz’s amendment increases the amount to 1% (about 28,000 students). It also maintains the current income eligibility rules for Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. In that program household income must not exceed 260% of the federal poverty level, with priority given to students whose families earns up to 185% of the federal poverty level.
Other changes include:
- Allowing Florida Tax Credit Scholarship students to continue receiving the scholarship until they graduate from high school or turn 21, aligning it with the Family Empowerment Scholarship provision. Now, Florida Tax Credit students must reapply each year.
- Allowing any Florida Tax Credit Scholarship student to transfer to the Family Empowerment Scholarship, as long as he or she attended a public school the year prior to entering the program.
- Allowing students in the Family Empowerment Scholarship program to take up to two state-supported virtual courses each year without cost. That provision already applies to Florida Tax Credit Scholarship students.
To see the text of this bill, please click HERE.
This bill (CS/SB 1220: Education) will become effective on 7/1/2020.
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker More about the community at www.WindermereSun.com
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