St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Senate ready to vote on faith-based prison plan
  • Governor calls for action to aid minority students
  • Ex-aide is accused of abusing office
  • Dismissal of tribe's lawsuit upheld
  • Anti-smoking ads work, say experts
  • University chief says Talented 20 has 'fatal flaw'
  • Bill adds crowding to voucher criteria
  • Bill would help doctors report their errors
  • Around the Legislature
  • Rains erase state burning ban in 21 counties

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story
  • tampabay.com

    printer version

    Bill adds crowding to voucher criteria

    The House measure would give $3,000 to students so they could get out of schools at 120 percent of capacity.

    By SHELBY OPPEL

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 22, 2001


    TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would provide taxpayer-financed private school tuition vouchers to students in crowded public schools.

    The bill was the second of two voucher proposals to reach the House floor this session. The House already has approved a measure to give income tax credits to corporations that donate money to help poor children attend private schools and public schools outside their home districts. The tax credit measure has more support in the Senate and a better chance of becoming law.

    Despite its uncertain fate, the crowded-voucher bill sparked debate on the House floor and applause from the public viewing galleries.

    "It is the right thing to do," said state Rep. Renier Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, a co-sponsor of the bill. "Our children should not be condemned to overcrowded classrooms and they don't have to be."

    Under the bill, students at any school where enrollment exceeds 120 percent of capacity would qualify for a $3,000 "grant" to help pay tuition at a private school. Private schools that accept the crowded-school vouchers would be subject to fewer rules than schools that now accept vouchers from students in failing public schools.

    For example, private schools wouldn't have to accept the $3,000 as the full tuition payment, which opponents say would benefit only wealthier parents who could afford to pay the balance. Also, private schools wouldn't have to open their doors to all applicants.

    In Citrus and Hernando counties, no schools are expected to be eligible for the crowded-school vouchers, based on current enrollment. In Hillsborough, 18 schools meet the definition of crowded. In Pasco, 10 schools could be eligible, and in Pinellas, it's 12 schools. Those numbers could change as more schools are built and populations shift.

    The bill grew out of lawmakers' frustration that the state's school construction problems weren't solved by a 1997 special session that provided $2.7-billion to build schools. In defense of the school districts, Democrats on Wednesday said all but $282-million of those funds had been spent or pledged for ongoing projects.

    "We are going to build those schools. We are going to use those tax dollars," said state Rep. Susan Bucher, D-West Palm Beach.

    The $3,000 voucher is less than the average amount spent on most schoolchildren in public schools. Supporters say that would result in a fiscal gain for public schools. Opponents say public schools won't save money because the loss of a few students here and there won't be enough to warrant hiring fewer teachers or buying fewer supplies.

    The bill is expected to receive final approval on today in the House, where Republicans who favor the measure hold a 77-43 majority. A similar measure has yet to be heard in the Senate.

    -- Times staff writer Steve Hegarty contributed to this report.

    * * *

    Florida Legislature Session 2001

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
     
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan


    From the Times state desk