End of School Year Deadlines and Legislative Updates

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The Home Education Foundation

The Home Education Foundation Newsletter

Home Educators' Voice At The Capitol - Florida
Providing information and insights to Florida Home Educators May 2011
In This Issue

McKay Scholarship Deadline

Other Deadlines

Legislative Updates
SB 2156 Reorganization of AWI

HB 7151 Bright Futures

SB 2150 Postsecondary Education Funding

CS/CS/HB 7197 Digital Learning

HB 797 Interscholastic Extracurricular Bill for Private School Students

CS/HB1329 McKay Scholarships/Students with Disabilities

SB 1550 / SB 1225 Educational Savings Account (ESA)


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John M. McKay Scholarship
Deadline Approaching

Deadline: June 30, 2011

McKay Scholarship Deadline

The Legislature passed a bill in 2010 providing a one-time window for parents to utilize the John McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities if the child had an Individual Educational Plan (IEP), was withdrawn from a public school and did not apply for the scholarship.

Why is this important to you?
This is important to parents who did not know about the scholarship and decided to home educate or place their child in a private school at their own expense, but now would like to put the child into a private school on a McKay Scholarship.

What is the McKay Scholarship?
It is a scholarship which provides state-funding to a student with a disability to attend a private school or another public school of the parent(s) choice. The scholarship can vary in amount, depending on the level of the child’s disability, as indicated by their IEP.

A student receiving a McKay scholarship may retain their scholarship until he/she returns to the zoned public school, graduates from high school or reaches the age of 22.

What does this mean for your child?
It means that any child with an IEP that was previously enrolled and reported for funding in October and February in a Florida public school any year between July 1, 2005 and June 30, 2010 is eligible to apply for a first time McKay Scholarship award.  Also, students who received specialized instructional services under the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program for the entire 2010-2011 school year are eligible.  The law passed in 2010 “grandfathers” these students who may currently be enrolled in a private school or a home education program into the McKay Scholarship Program if they meet the eligibility requirements.

How do I apply for the McKay Scholarship?
Call the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice at 1-800-447-1636 and ask how to apply. (Expect to leave a message so someone can get back to you.)

Your immediate action is required if you want to take advantage of this scholarship because your child has to have a current IEP for you to apply.

Other Deadlines

Deadline:  Bright Futures scholarship applications must be submitted prior to high school graduation.                

June is the last opportunity to take the SAT or ACT test.  The student may be able to raise the test scores and receive a higher scholarship award.

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Legislative Updates

SB 2156 Reorganization of AWI

Office of Early Learning

SB 2156 Online

Early LearningMany of you worked hard on this issue and while we did not get the outcome we desired, it was a great deal better than a Division of Early Learning at the Department of Education. The Auditor General's review could influence legislation in the upcoming Session scheduled to begin in January 2012

Here are the key components of the Reorganization:

Transfer the Office of Early Learning from the Agency of Workforce Innovation (AWI) to the Department of Education as a separate, independent entity, effective July 1, 2011.

  • Director of the Office appointed by the Governor, confirmed by the Senate.
  • DOE may not impose requirements or standards on Early Learning programs beyond what is authorized currently in law for VPK.
  • Auditor General review of the programs and delivery systems (including Early Learning Coalitions).

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HB 7151 Bright Futures

Bright FutruesHB 7151 Online

Authorizes DOE to approve community service hours for home education students applying for the Bright Futures Academic Scholarship.

"A student must complete a program of community service work, as approved by the district school board, or the administrators of a nonpublic school, or the Department of Education for home education program students, which shall include a minimum of 75 hours of service work and require the student to identify a social problem that interests him or her, develop a plan for his or her personal involvement in addressing the problem, and, through papers or other presentations, evaluate and reflect upon his or her experience."

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SB 2150 Postsecondary Education Funding

Postsecondary Ed

SB 2150 Online

Bright Futures Scholarships

  • Increases Medallion Scholars SAT test scores for students graduating in 2013-14 from 1050 to 1170 and ACT score from 23 to 26. For home education students whose parents cannot document a college-preparatory curriculum the SAT scores increase from 1100 to 1220 or a concordant ACT score from 24 to 27.
  • Increases Community service hours for students graduating in 2011-2012 from 75 to 100 hours for Academic Scholars and adds a requirement of 75 hours for Medallion scholars in the 2011-2012 school year.
  • Does not give DOE the authority to approve the community service hours for home education students for the Medallion Scholarship.
  • To be eligible for an award under the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, a student must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which is complete and error free prior to disbursement.
  • State universities shall require students to pay an excess hour surcharge equal to 100% of the tuition rate for each credit hour taken in excess of 115 % of the number of credit hours required to complete the baccalaureate degree program in which the student is enrolled.

Note: Students who take more than 115% will be required to pay an additional charge for tuition which is the portion that the state normally pays as a hidden cost of tuition.

Bright Futures Scholarship Awards

The award per credit hour for students who enroll during the 2011-2012 academic year shall be as follows:

  • Four year institutions:
    • Academic Scholars Award     $ 101
    • Medallion Scholars Award      $ 76

  • Two year Institutions
    • Academic Scholars Award    $ 62
    • Medallion Scholars Award    $ 62
  • Upper Division Programs offered by Florida Colleges
    • Academic Scholars Award     $ 70
    • Medallion Scholars Award     $ 52

Tuition Increases

A couple of years ago because of the budget deficit the Legislature allowed state universities community colleges and Florida colleges to add a tuition differential to the base allocation in the state appropriation budget. This tuition differential is flexible and can increase up to 15% per year. Tuition will continue to rise until Florida colleges and universities are in line with national tuition rates. Florida universities tuition's have been among the lowest in the nation. Out of state students could come to Florida, pay out of state tuition and still be less expensive than going to school in other states as a in state resident. The Florida Bright Futures award was decoupled from tuition about 3 years ago and the amount of the award has gone down each year. However, many home education families will qualify for needs-based scholarships and since the FAFSA is an application requirement Bright Futures, colleges and universities will know if you are eligible for needs-based funding.

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CS/CS/HB 7197

Digital Learning


CS/CS/HB 7197 Online

  • Specifies that home education students do not have to take the FCAT or EOC exams.
  • Home Education students can enroll part-time in grades 6 -12 through FLVS but only public school students can enroll part-time in 4th and 5th grades.
  • Any student entering kindergarten or first grade can enroll in a full-time virtual instruction program through the school district or FLVS without being enrolled during the prior school year in a public school.
  • Requires public school students to take at least one online course prior to graduation.

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HB 797 Interscholastic Extracurricular Bill for Private School Students


HB 797 Online

Establishes a statewide program for middle and high school students attending non-FHSAA private schools which do not have an athletic program and have less than 125 students to participate in athletics at their zoned public school.

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CS/HB1329 McKay Scholarships/Students with Disabilities

CS/HB1329 Online

If this bill is signed into law it will:

  • Make scholarships available to students with disabilities who have a 504 accommodation plan issued under federal law.
  • Allow parent to request and receive a scholarship for their student to enroll and attend a private school if student has a 504 accommodation plan
  • Allow a parent to enroll student in a public school in an adjacent district under certain conditions.

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SB 1550 / SB 1225 Educational Savings Account (ESA) (Died)

Bright FutruesThis bill would have provided state funding to parents for the education of their child. The bill would have allowed parents to direct a financial institution trustee of his or her child's account to use the funds for specified costs of attending a private school or participating in a dual enrollment program or to make a contribution to the child's college savings plan or a payment to a contract under the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program, normally referred to as the "Florida Prepaid College Fund."

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