With Andy Gardiner in tow, Ron DeSantis highlights fully-funded scholarships
Photo Credit: Governor’s Press Office

A victory lap for the Governor.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis came to Jacksonville for the second time this month, visiting a local private school for special needs children to highlight increased scholarship spending.

DeSantis had appeared at that school (The North Florida School for Special Education) ahead of the Legislative Session, vowing to fight to end the waitlist for Gardiner Scholarships.

Currently, almost 12,000 students participate in the program that has spent $124 million. Qualifying conditions include autism, Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disabilities, in addition to being a “high-risk child.”

Funding the additional scholarship will cost an extra $18.8 million next fiscal year. Total funding will increase to $147.1 million during the coming year.

On Wednesday, DeSantis took a victory lap, and with him was former Senate President Andy Gardiner.

The two received paintings called “the Butterfly Effect,” intended to illustrate interconnectedness.

Gardiner, whose son with disabilities is now 15 years old and driving, credited his wife for pushing him to be involved in establishing these scholarships.

“We made a commitment on the day he was born … to help him and help other families,” Gardiner said, calling DeSantis a “champion” for these children.

“We had this idea of a scholarship that would help a parent with money for therapies for children,” Gardiner said about the first push.

It’s gone so much farther since.

DeSantis had pushed for increased student funding and increased choice this Session, and his remarks to a receptive crowd reflected a successful push for “historic victories,” including teacher bonuses, promoting career education, and computer science and technology.

“One of the things we really thought was important … the Gardiner Scholarship, which benefits a lot of people in this state,” DeSantis said.

“I liked what it was … but the fact of the matter is we had thousands of people on a waiting list” for “great schools like this,” DeSantis said.

“We’ve been successful,” DeSantis said. “The Gardiner waiting list is no more.”

Last updated on May 22, 2019

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected]FloridaPolitics.com or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Frankie M.

    May 22, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    They have money for special programs at private schools & taxpayer funded “public” charter schools (read: more private schools) but our CPA mayor hems and haws about funding public schools? No hypocrisy there.

    • Susan

      May 27, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      I hope we’ll be able to vote yes on the .005 increase in sales tax for a dedicated funding source to maintain the Duval County neighborhood school buildings. .005 times $5,000 in taxable items is $25. I am sad that Mayor Curry isn’t as enthused about this dedicated funding source for our neighborhood schools as he was for the sales tax increase that he championed with super pac money a couple of years ago. We need this dedicated funding source for our neighborhood schools.

      The state gets the 7% sales tax. Right now we have a .005 surtax but it was going to end but Curry proposed to extend it to pay for the pension debacle. I heard that the city council may be fixing the pension debacle and the sales tax increase that Curry championed won’t need to go into effect. Is that correct? I hope you’ll write an article about it.

      Do you know how many kids in Florida have autism, Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disabilities? What percentage of those kids go to public schools? How much extra does it cost for the education of those kids vs other kids? What are their other options? What percentage takes advantage of each option? Are their other public assistance programs that help?

      I was talking to one woman that takes advantage of one of these voucher programs and home schools her child. The voucher doesn’t 100% pay for the schooling because she personally teaches her child via the homeschooling curriculum.

      “High risk kids” is also mentioned in the article. What is a high risk kid? I think we need more social workers and mental health counselors in all the neighborhood schools. Is the GOP legislators willing to fund that?

      I wish the Florida legislators would fully fund the neighborhood schools including beautiful buildings, social workers, mental health counselors, gifted classes, tutors, high paid teachers, teacher aids, etc.

      Quote from article:
      Funding the additional scholarship will cost an extra $18.8 million next fiscal year. Total funding will increase to $147.1 million during the coming year.

Comments are closed.


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