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Funding changes to Bright Futures would cause 'unreliable path,' School District of Palm Beach County says

Bill would cause inconsistent funding, Dr. Donald Fennoy states
Palm Beach County School District logo
Posted at 6:59 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 19:18:41-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The School District of Palm Beach County is taking a tough stance against a Florida bill that would change funding for the Bright Futures Scholarship program.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: State of Education

Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy released a statement Friday afternoon excoriating the proposed changes by state lawmakers.

"SB-86 leads Bright Futures funding down an unreliable path by untying the funding from the Florida Lottery and making it dependent on appropriations each year," Fennoy said in a written statement. "This leaves our families unable to depend on consistent funding earned by high-performing, conscientious students."

Lawmakers killed a controversial portion of the bill Tuesday that would have limited college scholarships for some Bright Futures recipients.

The bill no longer tethers scholarship dollars to a degree's job prospects. Students would only have to acknowledge their chosen field may not lead to immediate employment.

School board members met Wednesday and agreed to a call to action, asking other school leaders, teachers and staff to make their voices heard in opposition of the bill.

If the measure is approved, Bright Futures would no longer promise to pay 75 percent or 100 percent of student tuition.

Bright Futures is a merit-based program that provided aid to more than 110,000 students last year alone. It cost about $618 million with funding fueled by the state lottery system.

Read Fennoy's full statement on the bill below:

It's very rare that the School District of Palm Beach County finds it necessary to issue a Call to Action in opposition to legislation; however, in the case of SB-86, the Bright Futures Scholarship Funding bill, we feel we must.

SB-86 leads Bright Futures funding down an unreliable path by untying the funding from the Florida Lottery and making it dependent on appropriations each year.

This leaves our families unable to depend on consistent funding earned by high-performing, conscientious students.

Our talented Bright Futures scholars are students we want to encourage to stay in Florida by offering them the scholarship they were told would be there for them if they earned it.

Please help us - to help you - keep Bright Futures funding reliable and as it is today.