By LuAnne Schendel May 2019
Governor Ron DeSantis signed Bill SB-7070 into law this week. Among other provisions, the bill creates Family Empowerment Scholarships to provide more families with funds for their children to attend private schools.
A court challenge is expected; the Supreme Court struck down a similar bill in 2006, with the justices ruling that it was unconstitutional for tax dollars to be used in parochial or private schools. Three of the justices who made that ruling have however retired and since been replaced with DeSantis appointees, so supporters of the bill are hopeful that it will withstand any challenge.
Gardiner Scholarships received an additional $23 million in funding, increasing the total to $147.9 million in the new state budget. This should fully fund the waiting list of almost 2,000 students.
Governor DeSantis also signed SB-7030, which allows public school districts to decide if they want to allow teachers to be armed. So far 26 large districts have said they will not arm teachers. The bill also focuses on improving mental health services and hardening school campuses in public schools. Private schools are not addressed in this bill.