I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Step up for Students and Florida's Tax-Credit Scholarship Program: Today's PNJ Covers the Positives!

I wrote a piece for a few months back on a local private school that receives tuition tax credit scholarship students from our local community via Step up for Students.  I was very impressed by what this school does for some local students--and I remain a staunch school choice supporter, knowing full-well that sometimes this can be a rocky-road to travel.  

From  NAACP aligns with the Florida establishment in attempts to kill school choice :

"Locally, we have fine private schools that have accepted the challenge to teach struggling students under the Florida tax credit scholarship program.  These schools are educating Florida students at about half the cost of what the state of Florida spends per pupil-and in the eyes of many parents these schools are doing a much better job than the public schools! Colin Hendrickson runs three such schools in our local area.  He and his wife, Johanna, have grown their program from one location and 12 students to three locations serving nearly 300 students in two counties from Pre-K through 12th grade. “Our growth has been exponential” Hendrickson stated when I spoke to him recently.  “Parents are coming to us from word of mouth referrals.” Colin described to me some of the attributes of his program that his parents and students appreciate.  “They feel safe here and they are safe here.  Parents are confident about the rigor of the curriculum, the quality of the learning environment, and the safety of the atmosphere here at Lighthouse Private Christian Academy [the academy run by the Hendricksons].  With our small classes and lots of one-on-one attention, our staff knows these kids by name, and parents really like that.” When asked about the financial ramifications to his program if the tax credit scholarship is eliminated by the special interests in court, Hendrickson is less optimistic.  “We have at least 120 students on the scholarship program, so if that goes away this will be a devastating blow to our school, costing us between $700,000 and $900,000– it could potentially shut us down. Lots of students would be uprooted and sent back to programs that are not meeting their needs, and that would be very sad to see,” Hendrickson said."

Today's  (Sunday's) edition of the Pensacola News Journal has a front page piece on one of the local

schools that participate in Florida's Tax-Credit Scholarship program administered by Step Up for Students, Lighthouse Private Christian Academy.  from today's PNJ:

"Lighthouse's founder Joanne Johannes said the schools have a total of about 300 preschoolers through 12th-graders, 43 teachers and six administrators on staff."About half of those students receive vouchers," she said. "The scholarship includes books, meals, everything except athletic activity fees." For many of her parents, the Step Up for Students scholarships make a big difference in affordability. "It really gives parents a choice in their child's education," Johannes said. "That is really what is important."

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