Today, I send a huge shout out to Palmetto Kids First! Trident Academy is fortunate to have them in its corner, helping our students by granting twenty-seven $10,000 scholarships to help with tuition so far this year! They tell us that there are a few more pending, waiting on Part Two of their process.
This is the third year that the state of South Carolina passed a proviso in the budget which allows scholarship funding organizations like Palmetto Kids FIRST to raise money for the purpose of helping special needs students receive appropriate educational services through independent schools like Trident Academy. It is now time for us as a school community to make our voices heard in Columbia. With the beginning of Dyslexia Awareness Month comes a time for us to actively engage our legislators. Currently, the state has a cap of $8 million that the funding organizations are allowed to raise. Funding organizations can issue up to $10,000 per student for tuition in independent schools for “exceptional needs students”, those diagnosed with learning disabilities who would receive services in a public school. If each grant were the maximum $10,000, only 800 students in South Carolina would receive money toward tuition. If the grants given were half that, $5,000, only 1,600 students would benefit. There are over 50,000 K-12 students in Charleston County alone. If only 10% of them qualified as “exceptional needs students” (20% of population is dyslexic), there would be 5,000 students eligible for the grants. There is an incredible need to raise the $8 million cap so that more students can take advantage of an education like Trident Academy.
This month, let’s help legislators understand what can happen with a Trident Academy education. Let’s send the message that schools with programs for students with special needs make a difference! Let’s tell your stories, your family’s stories to our legislators. Let’s share what life was like before Trident Academy and how it has changed. Let’s share how the funding issued through Palmetto Kids First has made it possible for your family to afford tuition. Let’s share how enacting hard legislation via law and raising the funding cap will mean that more students will benefit from schools like Trident Academy. Helping more students means that South Carolina will benefit by having more students thriving and becoming more productive citizens.