New law allows parents to choose child's school

Posted at 11:10 PM, Apr 14, 2016

No longer bound by a school zone. A new law signed by Gov. Rick Scott is allowing parents to choose what school their child goes to.

There are still many unanswered questions about how children will get to sign up for schools. Will it be first come, first serve? Will it cost more taxpayer dollars if your child is going to school outside the county? The law won’t affect schools until the 2017-2018 school year, but school districts and parents are already planning ahead. 

When it comes to school, Joshua Pierre Louis' mom is more concerned about the academics. 

"I’ve always taught them, you have to get the grades," said Juyle Pierre Louis, talking about her advice to her three sons. 

Joshua though, has his eye on the football programs. 

"Some schools, they do have better coaches than others," said Joshua. 

Finding a school that has it all in your zone could be a challenge. That’s why a new law that allows students to go to any school they want as long as there is space is especially appealing to athletes.

'It's a great relief. It allows the child to excel, open up new horizons for this child to go into things that they were otherwise not able to do," said Pierre Louis. 

It's Joshua's last year at Jeaga middle school. His next zoned school is Palm Beach Lakes High School, a "C" school.

"It's a good school, but it’s not my choice," said Pierre Louis. 

The Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association President says the law doesn't seem fair to families that can't take their child to another school. Parents pulling their children from locals schools could also impact school scores and affect teachers' salaries. 

The Palm Beach County School District Superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa agrees the impacts are uncertain. 

"It’s too early to speculate on how this legislation will affect our schools, and other districts throughout Florida. I'm sure the superintendents will discuss this at our next statewide meeting this summer. We need to evaluate the potential long-term impact of this school choice bill - both its risks and benefits," said Dr. Avossa in a statement. 

Right now Joshua has two options for high school. He's been accepted to Suncoast High School and Oxbridge Academy, a private school. His other brothers may be able to take advantage of this new law in 2017. 

"With this bill they have the choice if they would want to go to another school," said Pierre Louis. 

As far as cost goes, a Palm Beach County Legislative liaison says there would be no additional tax on parents whose children are changing schools. The entire impact on state funds provided to districts is still uncertain.