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Bill to expand education for students with disabilities passes final Senate committee

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Florida students with disabilities could have expanded educational options in a bill that passed its final Senate committee hearing Wednesday morning.

LobbyTools is reporting that SB 672, sponsored by Niceville Republican Don Gaetz, is now on its way to the Senate floor. If passed, the bill would expand the one-year Personal Learning Scholarship Account program, making it a permanent part of the state budget.

The bill seeks to expand the program to cover additional three and 4-year-old Florida children diagnosed on the autism spectrum and those with muscular dystrophy. It has been a priority of both House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner, whose son has Down syndrome.

In addition, LobbyTools notes that the bill will allow for the creation of a “Center for Unique Abilities” in institutes of higher education. Those centers will act as a one-stop facility for information and connections to other programs and services for children with disabilities. Charter schools and school districts will also be offered incentives to create programs and maintain uniform policies.

The House version of the bill (HB 7011) will have its final committee hearing Thursday.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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