In the first in a series of conversations about education-related outcomes of the 2022 Florida legislative session, reimaginED senior writer Lisa Buie hosted Step Up For Students president Doug Tuthill and chief operating officer Gina Lynch in a discussion about the surge in applications since the passage of last year’s landmark education choice bill; challenges with implementing the legislation; and improvement opportunities that can further benefit families and schools.
Tuthill and Lynch discussed how 2021’s HB 7045 changed the state’s education choice landscape by consolidating the Gardiner Scholarship program and folding it into the Family Empowerment Scholarship, resulting in a 16% enrollment increase for the income-based scholarship and a 37% increase for the unique abilities scholarship.
“Imagine having a child with (unique needs) … You’re fighting to find the best place for your child … but because of an arbitrary cap, your child is left behind. That seems unconscionable; we should be committed … to making sure every family has equal opportunity to meet their children’s needs.”
- How passage of HB 7045 resulted in an application explosion across all scholarship programs
- Program caps and the delicate balancing act of ensuring as many students as possible are funded without creating wait lists
- Issues surrounding cross-checking student enrollment in district schools and opportunities for policy improvement
- Simplifying the attendance verification process for schools so families can receive timely funding
- Building infrastructure to accommodate more students using education savings accounts