Gov. Rick Scott signed his final bill of 2011 on Tuesday (July 19,2011), approving the creation of a state-funded boarding school for at-risk youth.
The bill allows Florida's State Board of Education to select a non-profit organization to run a boarding school for troubled youth, with a college preparatory curriculum. This bill (SB 404) was lobbied for by two groups, including one that runs a similar state-funded boarding school in Washington D.C. and Maryland.
The bill comes with a caveat, however, stating that the governor was concerned about the cost of such a school to taxpayers. In fact, it's still unclear how the school would be funded. According to the new law, several state agencies will work together to create funding for the school from educational and non-educational sources such as the state's foster care system, Medicaid, and housing programs.
To be eligible for admission in the boarding school, a student must be in grades 5 or 6 and is already at risk of academic failure. He/She must also come from a household which is 200% below federal poverty level, may be from foster care or receiving housing voucher, be living with relatives who are not parents, or have parents who are serving time in prison.
"While I believe the intent of this legislation, based on successful models in Maryland and Washington D.C., is a worthwhile concept, it is important the (school) accomplishes its goals without placing an undue burden on Florida's taxpayers," Gov. Rick Scott said. View the details of the bill here.