Orthodox Union and Jewish Leadership Coalition Applaud Florida’s Expanded School Choice Program


Program Reflects Advocacy Efforts of Non-Public School Community

For Immediate Release                                                           Contact:

June 26, 2014                                                                         Roslyn Singer, 212-613-8227

 

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Representatives from the Jewish Leadership Coalition, the Orthodox Union, Chabad, Agudath Israel, Step Up for Students, and synagogues and Jewish day schools throughout South Florida lobbied the Florida House and Senate to expand the tax credit scholarship program.

The Orthodox Union (OU) and its Florida partner, the Jewish Leadership Coalition (JLC), applaud Florida Governor Rick Scott’s signing of the school choice expansion bill into law, which will have a significant impact on Florida’s Jewish day school community and the non-public school community overall. Certain features of the bill were initially proposed by the OU and JLC and later incorporated into the final legislation.

Expected to serve more than 67,000 low-income students this fall, the key elements of the expanded program include: removing the requirement that students in grades 6-12 must have attended public school in the prior year in order to receive a private school scholarship; extending scholarship eligibility so that students whose families earn up to 260 percent of the federal poverty line ($62,010 for a family of four) qualify for partial scholarships; and increasing the scholarship caps per student from $4,800 to approximately $5,272.

The extended program also offers parents of students with special needs new personalized learning scholarship accounts, which will provide access to 90 percent of the funding a school district would have received for that student. Parents can direct that funding to multiple uses, including private school tuition, tutoring programs and therapy sessions.

“We are very grateful to Gov. Scott for making this bill a reality as well as to Sen. Andy Gardiner, for his unwavering support for this program,” said Allan Jacob, Chairman of the Jewish Leadership Coalition. “By including more families in the program, Florida creates an equitable and fair framework for school choice options that serve all Florida residents, including the Jewish day school community.”

“Florida’s expanded school choice program is a perfect example of how advocacy can have a real impact. The Jewish day school community, together with the larger non-public school community, kept up the pressure on state legislators, making their needs and concerns heard,” said Maury Litwack, Director of State Political Affairs for OU Advocacy. “We thank Gov. Scott for approving the extended program and plan to work with legislators in other states on similar programs.”

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The Orthodox Union is the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization; the OU Advocacy Center is the non-partisan public policy arm of the OU and leads its advocacy efforts in Washington, DC and state capitals.