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Gov. DeSantis makes education announcement to benefit special needs students

Posted: 10:44 AM, Feb 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-04 16:17:41-05
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LONGWOOD, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to provide more educational opportunities for students with special needs.

The Governor announced on Monday afternoon in Central Florida he's eliminating a wait list for the Gardiner Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to students with special needs in grades K-12.

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Nearly 1,900 students who need special services have been placed on that wait list because the demand for the scholarship has outpaced state funding for it.

"In our budget that we just submitted, I have allocated enough money to get rid of the wait list for the Gardiner Scholarship entirely," Gov. DeSantis said Monday afternoon at Pace Brantley School in Longwood. "What we've seen with the Gardiner program is proven success. Parents who need to find that good environment for their kids have been able to find it using the Gardiner scholarship."

The average scholarship amount for most students in the 2018-19 school year is $10,400, according to the organization, Step Up For Students.

That money can be spent on private school tuition, curriculum, tutoring, therapy, as well as Florida's Prepaid College Program.

"We look forward to getting the Legislature to allocate these funds, and we look forward to welcoming close to 2,000 new students in the next school year," Gov. DeSantis said Monday.

Education has been a big priority for Florida's 46th Governor. Last Thursday, he said he's signing an executive order to eliminate Florida's controversial Common Core program.

"When you complained about Common Core, I hear you. I told you I would do something about, and today we're acting to bring those promises into reality," said Gov. DeSantis last Thursday.

Common Core is a set of academic standards in mathematics and arts/literacy that outline what students should know at the end of each grade. Some parents argue the guidelines are too rigid and require too much testing for students.

"This is going to be a process that will take the balance of this year and then we will go to the Legislature next session and want to get that done," said Gov DeSantis. "We don’t want to dilly dally, but at the same time we want to get it right."

Also last week, the Governor held a news conference at Tampa Bay Technical High School, where he announced a plan to improve Florida's workforce education program.