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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

An early draft of Florida's "education savings account" (vouchers for all) proposal

13

December

Below is an early draft of the "education savings account" idea (many consider it "vouchers for all") that Gov.-elect Rick Scott, his education transition team and key lawmakers are talking about. It was authored by Patricia Levesque, executive director of Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future and a member of Scott's ed transition team.

Education Savings Account
 
Allow parents to create a state education savings account for their child. 
 
Eligibility: 
Any student who was in public school in the prior year
School-aged sibling of a student already in the program.
 
Education Savings Account:  Parents of eligible students can request and receive funds for an education savings account equal to 85% of the amount the student would have generated in the public school system. 
 
Partial eligibility:
Students in McKay Scholarship or Florida Tax Credit Scholarship programs may request and receive the “balance” of what they are receiving under their program and what they could receive if they were under the Education Savings Account Program.
 
Private/Virtual school/private tutoring eligibility:
Any SACS accredited private school in Florida
private school that is eligible and participating in McKay Scholarships or Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program
Any virtual school approved by the Florida Department of Education as an approved provider.
Any SES program approved to operate under the federal ESEA law.
 
The Department of Revenue will contract with qualified financial institutions to administer the state education savings accounts.  The state will make four quarterly payments into the account at approved financial institutions.
 
Qualified expenditures from the Education Savings Account:
·         K-12 private school tuition and fees
·         K-12 virtual school tuition and fees
·         K-12 tutoring (full-time tutoring and Supplemental Education Services)
·         Books for dual enrollment
·         Tuition for dual enrollment at ICUF institution
·         Laptop or computer to be used for educational purposes
·         Textbooks or curriculum to be used via a home education program
·         Contributions to the child’s 529 plan
·         Purchase of a Florida Prepaid College Plan
 
Unused funds remain and roll over to the following year in the state education savings account.
 
Financial institutions set up their own criteria for verifying an appropriate expenditure from the account (just as they currently do for 529 plans).  Department of Revenue would conduct annual random audits of the institutions.
 
State would create a statewide Education Savings Account fund and appropriate sufficient funds into the account.  The program would not be set up as the McKay Scholarship or Opportunity Scholarship fund where funds were moved as part of the FEFP formula out of the district budget into the scholarship.
 
Benefits of the proposal:
·         State saves 15% for every public school parent who chooses this option.
·         Effectively addresses Bush v Holmes exclusivity decision because the program is not part of the uniform public education system. 
·         Creates a marketplace for parents to make education decisions.  They are encouraged to shop for high quality low cost education alternatives so they can save for their child’s college.
·         Builds path for college access and affordability through the encouragement of state assisted savings for higher education.

[Last modified: Monday, December 13, 2010 3:28pm]

    

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