JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis made their first official trip to Jacksonville Monday to announce plans to eliminate the wait list for the Gardiner scholarship at the North Florida School of Special Education.
Currently, 25 families receive funding for their education through the scholarship. Up until DeSantis' announcement, another 2,000 families were on the scholarship's wait list.
The governor told a crowd of parents and students that his proposed budget includes $19 million in proposed funding that would allow those 2,000 families access to that scholarship without having to wait on a list.
“I have allocated enough funds to get rid of the wait list for Gardner scholarships entirely," said Governor Ron DeSantis.
The announcement Monday was met with a round of applause from students and parents.
Tim Crass is one of the fortunate parents who've been able to send his 8-year-old son Drew to the school thanks to the Gardiner scholarship.
“He gets an individualized education, which you couldn’t get anywhere else," Tim Crass said.
Drew Crass has down syndrome.
“It’s really important for a parent with a child with special needs to know you have that safety net,” Tim Crass said.
Eliminating the waiting list would mean thousands of families will have that same safety net, being able to receive close to $10,000 or two-thirds of the tuition so their child can go to school there.
“It allows the school to bring more kids in, because a lot of kids wouldn’t be able to afford to come here," Tim Crass said.
“Every parent knows what’s best for their child and if they can customize the education experience," DeSantis said. "I think we have a much better chance of being successful."
The scholarships can be used to pay for tuition, after-school therapy, books and home school supplies.
"Now the school is growing, brand new campus being built next door," Tim Crass said. "They are going to be able to accommodate so many more families, it's a win-win."
The funding still has to be approved by the legislature.