Gov. DeSantis comes to Central Florida to promise support for students with special needs

Gov. DeSantis promises support for charter schools in Central Florida

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis came to a Central Florida school Monday afternoon to announce he wants to eliminate the waitlist for a program that helps students with special needs.

DeSantis promised more funding the Gardiner Scholarship Program, which provides education funding for children with disabilities.

DeSantis made the announcement at Pace Brantley School in Longwood.

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"As long as I'm governor, don't worry about the Gardiner Scholarship. It's gonna be there," DeSantis said.

On Friday, DeSantis released details of his $91.3 billion budget proposal, which included $21.7 billion worth of spending for education. DeSantis said his budget doubled the previous year's per-student funding from $101 to $224 at the K-12 level.

The budget includes an additional $19 million to eliminate the waitlist for the Gardiner Scholarship.

"You can't really put it into words what it feels like to get accepted and to read that letter," said Brett Bormann, the parent of a child who receives the scholarship.

Roughly 11,000 students benefit from the program but the money is distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, which also contributed to the wait list that's grown to 1,900 families. The funding can be used for things like instructional materials and tuition at private schools.

While the scholarship was the main focus of the governor's visit today, he also said he would soon announce a new teacher recruitment proposal as well as plans to replace the "Best and Brightest" teacher bonus, which is controversial because it's partially based on SAT and ACT scores.