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Gov. DeSantis announces school choice expansion

HB 7045 allows low-income children to be eligible for private school scholarships
Posted at 12:38 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 14:39:11-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday is making an education announcement during a stop in Jacksonville.

The governor made the announcement at a news conference at St. John the Apostle Catholic School in Hialeah.

DeSantis is signing HB 7045, which repeals the Gardiner and McKay Scholarship Programs for special needs students, and transition those children into the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program.

“This legislation creates historical levels of flexibility in both schooling and educational services for millions of low-income families and families of students with unique abilities,” said Governor DeSantis. “As we have seen for more than 20 years now, these scholarship programs have elevated so many children and families. I am thankful to Senator Manny Diaz and Representatives Randy Fine and Jason Fischer for sponsoring this inclusive legislation to ensure that all of Florida’s students have the best chance for success.”

The bill also allows more children from low-income families to be eligible for K-12 private school "vouchers," also known as scholarships.

To be eligible, a family's household income level must not exceed 375 percent of the federal poverty level or about $100,000 for a family of four.

However, public school officials have criticized the measure, saying the bill siphons taxpayer money away from public schools and allows students to attend private schools for free using taxpayer money.

Joining the governor at Tuesday's news conference were Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

School choice vouchers allow students to attend private schools for free with tuition coming from taxes.

While the vouchers can allow low-income students to attend schools their families couldn’t otherwise afford, critics say they siphon money from public schools.

Public schools are largely funded on a per-pupil basis from government funds; each student who does not enroll in public schools deals a blow to their bottom lines.