(April 27, 2021 / JNS) A bill passed on Thursday by the Florida Senate will significantly increase state-provided scholarships for private-school students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Senate Bill 48 was passed in a 24-15 partisan vote and now goes to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to approve it.
If put into effect, as of July 1, private-school students from working- and middle-class families with incomes that amount to 375 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for the same scholarships that public-school students can receive from the state, which is approximately $7,500 per student.
Longtime school-choice champion Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) sponsored the legislation in the House.
“I’m really proud we passed the school-choice legislation,” he said. “Every child deserves to go to the school best for them, regardless of income or ZIP code. We have created a historic expansion in the number of children who can participate in the program, whether they have special needs or come from lower- to middle-income families. We are going to make it possible for many more kids to attend the school that is best for them.”
Teach Florida, an organization that advocates for educational funding opportunities for nonpublic state schools and a project of the Orthodox Union, applauded the senate’s passing of the bill. More than 40 percent of Jewish day-school students receive financial aid from state scholarships, according to its executive director, Daniel Aqua.
Allan Jacob, chair of Teach Florida, said in a statement on Monday: “The historic increase in scholarships created by this legislation gives thousands of working-class families, for the first time, the ability to give their children the best education for them. This is a tremendous boost to Jewish families across Florida who sacrifice to give their children a Jewish education. It allows our schools to open new classrooms and provide students with quality learning.”
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