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Gov. DeSantis signs bill expanding Family Empowerment Scholarship to more students

The expansion means another 28,000 students will be eligible for the 2020-21 school year.

TAMPA, Fla. — A day after announcing he was signing a bill that would increase teacher pay to at least $47,500 per year, Florida's governor signed a bill aimed at providing more opportunities for students.

Speaking from Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 7067, which expands the Family Empowerment Scholarship. Now, 28,000 students will be eligible for scholarships for the 2020-21 school year. Previously, the scholarships were open to 18,000 Florida students.

"We worked really hard this year to deliver for students and families when it comes to education," DeSantis said. "If we in the state of Florida can say, we're doing everything we can that any child...has the tools to be able to make the most of their God-given talents."

The FES program is aimed at providing more opportunities and resources for low-income and working-class families to choose a non-public school that could better meet the needs of their children. 

"Anytime you have robust choice, every single school gets better," Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Thursday. "(The expansion) is ensuring that all children...are going to be afforded a world-class education."

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, also the founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, released a statement following DeSantis' bill signing:

"Florida continues to be a national leaders in educational opportunities for families and students. As our state and nation face historically challenging times, it is imperative that we help disadvantaged students access the educational setting that best fits their unique learning needs.

"By providing the nation’s largest and most robust array of educational options, Florida policymakers can be proud of continuing to invest in proven policies that best prepare students for success in school and in their future.” 

The expansion of the scholarship program also raises the maximum income for eligibility, which means more students are eligible for scholarships.

DeSantis' visit to Tampa comes on the same day the Florida Department of Health reported another 5,004 new cases of COVID-19 in the state. It's the second day in a row more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases have been reported.

RELATED: New COVID-19 numbers: Florida reports another 5,004 cases

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis signs bill to increase teacher pay

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