Critics often say private-school vouchers "drain" money from public schools. But under a new bill, the state would take taxpayer savings from corporate tax-credit vouchers and funnel them to the voucher student's original school. In other words, if a CTC voucher costs $3,750, and it costs $7,000 to educate that kid in a public school, then the state would give $3,250 to the school that kid attended before he got the voucher. "While I am sympathetic to Florida taxpayers, we have a crisis today in our state," leading voucher supporter John Kirtley told The Gradebook via e-mail. "There are people making heroic efforts in public schools serving these kids, and we are happy that our program can be a source of additional funds to them." It's unclear yet how much money is at stake, but last year, more than 14,000 low-income students received CTC scholarships, at a total value of nearly $50 million. The new bill – which does not have an individual sponsor – also includes statutory language designed to shield CTC vouchers from the kind of legal challenge that upended another voucher program, the Opportunity Scholarships, last year. It's expected to be heard in a House education committee next week. For now, there is no Senate counterpart.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter