If the grant is approved Flagler Schools will be able to restore program.
With a little more than three weeks left in the Florida Legislative Session, Rep. Paul Renner said he is “cautiously optimistic” that funding for the Adults with Disabilities program in Flagler will be approved by the time the session ends on March 11.
“I think we are in a good place at this point in the budget process,” Renner said in a phone interview. “Senator (Travis) Hutson and I have been working very hard on this.”
If approved, the application request of $500,000 would fund the Flagler program through the fiscal year.
One option being considered is a program that would provide funding only for Flagler, Miami-Dade and a couple other counties.
“The House would prefer a statewide solution, but if that fails to take place there’s the stand-alone program,” Renner said.
Flagler Technical Institute Director Kevin McCarthy said he is also optimistic that the program, left without funding at the last minute on June 30, has a good chance of funding.
“We have received confirmation that the Senate has accepted our proposal, and we are hopeful the House will follow suit,” McCarthy said.
The Flagler School board continued funding the program in July and August, but in September McCarthy reported to the board that services and staff had been cut to keep at least part of the Step-Up program operational.
Restoration of funding won’t mean Flagler can rely on grant funding they have received for the past 20 years.
“It’s best to look for a long term solution so we aren’t going back year after year,” Renner said. “Flagler’s program relied on the grant 100%, so when they lost it, it was devastating. I am hoping other funding resources can be found to offset these grants so they are not as vulnerable in the future.”
McCarthy said while other resource venues are being explored, they aren’t as plentiful as they were before, and there is more competition for the funds.
“The school board has been great in this process,” Renner said. “There has been great commitment by the school board members, Jacob Oliva, Tom Lutz, Stewart Marchman, and members of the community.”
McCarthy said that Lutz, a private citizen, has been very involved with being an advocate for adults with disabilities.
“This is a bad news story that shows the good news about a community, and a lot of unity. This has been very much a team effort,” Renner said.