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Florida voucher program grows in popularity as more parents choose homeschooling

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – A government voucher program is gaining popularity as more parents choose to homeschool their children.

So far, 40,000 families have applied for the Personalized Education Program, a significant increase since last year.

Meghan Reyes has enrolled both of her sons in the program.

As a former teacher and concerned mother who is worried about the many changes in the district, she said homeschooling is the best option right now.

And thanks to Florida's thriving homeschool voucher program, it's becoming easier and easier to educate students at home.

The Personalized Education Program will fund 60,000 students in the 2024-2025 school year. Last school year, it funded 20,000 students.

“I can say that parents in the homeschooling community, especially in Duval, have been very engaged this year,” Reyes said.

More than half of the allocated applicants have already applied, including Reyes, who is registering her 6- and 8-year-old sons for the second time.

She believes homeschooling is the best solution. She was an elementary and high school teacher in Virginia and a college professor in Florida.

Here in Duval County, the public school district is facing challenges such as declining enrollment, which has led to a billion-dollar budget deficit, numerous school closures, and the elimination of up to 700 jobs.

“Our neighbors are going to local schools and magnet schools, and our neighbors are losing their school, it's disappearing and it's incredibly nerve-wracking,” Reyes said. “I have to say, my husband is a strong supporter of the public school system because he grew up in it. I'm all for homeschooling as long as the parents are really able to provide that education.”

Step Up for Students is an organization that manages the vouchers for the PEP program.

The organization confirmed that about 1,000 students from Duval County received the scholarship last school year.

Here is the breakdown of the program requirements:

It is open to Florida residents in grades preschool through high school who are not enrolled in a full-time private or public school.

All household incomes are eligible

Students must be at least 5 years old on September 1st

Applications are still possible and there is currently no deadline.

To apply, you can visit StepUpForStudents.org.

Copyright 2024 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.

Anna Harden

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