Florida public schools had $1.3 billion 're-routed' to private schools through voucher program, says report

The funding shift went from $326 million in 2020 to an estimated $1.3 billion for the 2022-2023 school year.

Florida public schools had $1.3 billion 're-routed' to private schools through voucher program, says report
PHOTO VIA ADOBE IMAGES
Since 2019, when Florida lawmakers created a voucher program called the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, the “flow of public funds to private education” has dramatically increased, according to a new report by the nonprofit Florida Policy Institute and the Education Law Center.

The report details an increase in money in the Florida Education Finance Program being “re-routed” from public school districts to voucher programs.

The Florida Education Finance Program, commonly known as the FEFP, is the main funding source for public schools.

The funding shift went from $326 million in 2020 to an estimated $1.3 billion for the 2022-2023 school year, according to the report.

During a news conference Tuesday about the report, speakers such as Leon County schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna decried the trend of expanding voucher programs.

“We (the school district) three years ago had around $4 million of money that came through the FEFP to Leon County that was being diverted to private institutions. That number grew from $4 million to $13 million, and this year $16 million. Over 2,000 (students) are receiving public … tax dollars to attend private mom-and-pop schools,” Hanna said.

Scott Kent, director of media and strategic communications for the organization Step Up for Students, disputed the report’s characterization that funds are being diverted to voucher programs.

Step Up for Students is a nonprofit that helps administer voucher programs in Florida.

“The report grossly distorts how the state funds education choice scholarships. The school districts never receive the money so it can’t be redirected. It’s just an accounting entry used by the state. Scholarship students no more divert funds from districts than students who pay out of pocket for private schools do,” Kent said Tuesday in a statement to The News Service of Florida.
Scroll to read more Florida News articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]