How the Step Up Scholarship in Florida Makes Private Education Accessible to Everyone

In the past, a private school education was out of reach for many because of the financial aspect. This put many parents of kids who were being bullied, or parents of those with a learning disability or special medical needs at the whim of the public school system with few options. Thankfully, the Step Up for Students scholarship was created in Florida to give greater school choice to those in special circumstances, creating more accessibility to a private education for all who need it. 

In this brief article, our team at Lakeside Christian School, one of the Step Up for Students participating schools in Clearwater, FL, has more information on the Step Up for Schools collection of scholarships to help you make the best choice for your child, regardless of tuition price.

 

What Is Step Up for Students?

According to their website, “Step Up For Students empowers families to pursue and engage in the most appropriate learning options for their children, with an emphasis on families who lack the information and financial resources to access these options.” 

Step Up for Students was dreamed up by founder John Kirtley, who began the Children’s Scholarship Fund of Tampa Bay. After legislation supported the ability of parents to use these scholarships to place their children in better schools and once combined with the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program enacted in 1988, the Step Up Scholarship was created. 

The overall goal of the Step Up for Students scholarship is to allow parents the opportunity to take their children to participating private schools if they felt they were not being served well in their local public and/or charter schools. The Step Up for Students scholarship program targets students who tend to have the most limited options for improving the quality of their education.

Originally, the scholarship fund housed two smaller scholarships, but in recent years it has been expanded into four separate funds. These include: 

  • The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC) for lower to middle income families
  • The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) for lower to middle income families and students with unique abilities (formerly called the Gardiner scholarship) 
  • The Hope Scholarship for public school students who are bullied or victims of violence
  • The Reading Scholarship Accounts for public school students in third through fifth grade who struggle with reading

This is an incredible organization that gives to those who need it most. Step-Up For Students writes, “A state-commissioned researcher has determined that scholarship students “tend to be among the lowest-performing students in their prior school, regardless of the performance level of their public school.” 

Ultimately, these scholarship funds make private schools in Clearwater, FL more accessible to any income level, reading level, or level of ability – all of which are welcomed by Lakeside Christian School.

 

What Are the Requirements for the Step Up Scholarship?

Although the Step Up for Students scholarships are housed under the same umbrella, each scholarship within Step Up has differing requirements. 

A few of the requirements for this collection of scholarships include: 

The Income-Based Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship: A child may be eligible for an FTC scholarship for any of the following reasons:

  • A member of the household receives food stamps or federal assistance  
  • The household income qualifies the student for a free or reduced-price lunch
  • The household income is at or below the amounts indicated in the Step Up For Students eligibility chart
  • The child is homeless, in foster care, or in out-of-home care

Gardiner Scholarship: This scholarship is for children with special needs and unique abilities. Students between the ages of 3 and 22 who have yet to complete the 12th grade may qualify for the Gardiner scholarship. Your child may qualify for the Gardiner scholarship if they have:  

  • A qualifying disability or impairment  
  • A rare disease  
  • Developmental delays

Your child may also qualify if they are in a hospital or homebound.

 

How Does Step Up for Students Help Create Successful Outcomes?

The Step Up for Students scholarship fund is important because it gives access to children who might be facing more hurdles than others in public schools. Although public schools may individually have excellent test scores, or may have a positive curriculum, ultimately your child may not be able to receive the individual attention they need. 

Think of a child who struggles in reading. A public school may not be able to slow down the curriculum in place to help one struggling child, and if you find that your child also does not respond well to a private tutor, what can you do? You can switch to a school with smaller class sizes and more focused, data-driven learning methods that give your child the attention they need to succeed. 

You can also consider the positive impact on children with special needs. The need may not seem big to a public school – for example, if your child suffers life-threatening anaphylaxis due to food allergies – but in a private school setting there are more eyes on the child more consistently, creating a safer environment. This can decrease stress not only for the student, but for their caregivers as well. 

In the ever-inflating market, schools that encourage Step Up for Students in Clearwater, FL can keep your child in the right school no matter what is happening in public schools or the economy.

 

Contact the Best Clearwater Private School

Lakeside Christian School wants to help create a positive foundation for the rest of your child’s life for all students, and welcomes recipients of the Step Up for Students Scholarship. With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call. 

 

If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, the best Clearwater private school, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.

Yes, You Can Afford Private Education in Clearwater, FL at Lakeside Christian School

One of the most common reasons people don’t choose a private school for their children is because they don’t believe they can afford it. What many parents are surprised to learn is that there are several scholarships available that put private school within reach for nearly every family of every income level. Thanks to legislation expanding school choice, private schools across Florida accept millions of dollars in scholarships each year to ensure greater access to better education. 

In this brief article, our team at Lakeside Christian School, an affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL, has shared a few of the scholarships available to help you remove the barrier of finances from providing your child the education they deserve.

 

Scholarships Accepted by Lakeside Christian School

At Lakeside Christian School, we want to remind you that YES! You can afford a private education at the best private school in Clearwater, FL. This is made possible through a combination of affordable tuition and the following scholarships to fill in any financial gaps or needs: 

  • Step Up for Students: Step Up for Students scholarships are a product of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program that was started in 1998 to help lower-income families have a choice in where their children went to school. Step Up for Students in Clearwater, FL allows parents the opportunity to take their children to participating private schools if they felt they were not being served with quality in their local schools. The Step Up for Students scholarship program is different because it targets students who tend to have the most limited options for improving the quality of their education. Families who are active duty military can also qualify for this scholarship.
  • McKay Scholarship: The McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities provided nearly 30,000 Florida students with special needs the opportunity to attend a participating private school during the 2020-21 school year. The McKay Scholarship Program also offers parents public school choice. A parent of an eligible special needs student may choose to transfer the student to another public school. This scholarship is now combined with the Gardiner Scholarship. Currently, the McKay scholarship is available to all students currently in the Florida Public School system who have a qualified IEP or 504 plan for specific learning issues.
  • Family Empowerment Scholarship: The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) is a scholarship program offered by the State of Florida through the Department of Education. It is intended for low-income and working-class families. This is different from the Step Up program.
  • AAA Scholarship Fund: The AAA Scholarship Foundation awards scholarships solely to qualifying low-income, disabled and/or displaced students. The AAA Scholarship Foundation is one of the only approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit scholarship organizations exclusively serving qualifying low-income, disabled and/or displaced students through these tax credit scholarship programs in multiple states.
  • FACTS Program: The FACTS scholarship is available to all parents who desire that their student attend Lakeside Christian School. This is an income-based scholarship designed to help create more affordable tuition.If you don’t qualify for the Step Up for Students scholarship, you still may qualify for other scholarship opportunities. Lakeside Christian School is committed to granting scholarships to families in need, which is why we created the FACTS scholarship. This scholarship is generously provided by our donors and helps those who are not recipients of Step Up for Students in Clearwater, FL

If you don’t qualify for the scholarships above, you may still be able to use the FACTS program. This in-house scholarship is designed to create more affordable tuition for low-income families and is available to new families who have decided that Lakeside Christian School is right for them. Financial aid is available to all qualifying families through a process called FACTS. FACTS is an online financial aid assessment program.

 It should be noted that currently the McKay and Step Up scholarships do not cover 100% of tuition costs.

 

How to Apply for Scholarships at Lakeside Christian School

Once you’ve realized that private school is within reach, the next question we often get is how to apply for scholarships that are available as well as their deadlines to apply. 

Many Christian elementary schools in Clearwater ask that parents apply for scholarships prior to admission, however, you may find it more beneficial to speak with the school you are considering directly. School advisors will help guide you through the process of both applying for admission and applying for financial assistance.

Each year, Lakeside Christian School provides over $250,000 in scholarships to qualified families. Our team can help you navigate the ins and outs of applying for scholarships and financial aid and will discuss any deadlines so that you have plenty of time to apply and meet those deadlines. You’ll benefit from speaking with Step Up for Students participating schools in Clearwater, FL

Lakeside Christian School wants to help you make the right decision for your family. With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children who participate both in virtual learning and/or an in-person setting, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call. 

For more information and to schedule a tour, please call Jim Jensen, Administrator at (727) 477-8542. 

 

If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, one of the Step Up for Students participating schools in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.

Private vs. Public vs. Charter: Choosing the Right School System for Your Child

If your child is starting kindergarten soon, you may be facing a difficult and confusing choice of whether they should enroll in a public or private school. However, those two aren’t always the only two options, as charter schools may also be a factor in your search. Choosing the right school system and school for your child is crucial in setting them up for long term success, and with so many options you might be feeling a bit confused about where to start and what the differences are between each type of school.  

In this brief article, the team at our Clearwater, FL Christian school, Lakeside Christian School, has shared some insights into the differences between public, private, and charter schools and how to know which is right for your unique child. 

 

What is a Charter School?

A charter school is defined by the state of Florida as: 

“…public schools that operate under a performance contract, or a “charter” which frees them from many regulations created for traditional public schools while holding them accountable for academic and financial results. The charter contract between the charter school governing board and the sponsor details the school’s mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment and ways to measure success.”

In other words, a charter school is a public school that is operating under the oversight of a governing board rather than the local school board. This sounds similar to private schools because of the oversight of a more localized board of directors, but there are still many of the same standards as a regular public school. 

Charter schools were created to give greater school choice to parents in the state of Florida, and there are certainly good aspects of a charter school. For example, a charter school may have slightly smaller class sizes because students must apply for admission and because charter schools have the ability to target specific age levels. Furthermore, parents may be invited to have a greater level of involvement at a charter school. However, because charter schools operate under different rules than regular public schools, there is a greater lack of regulation and the promise of being in a highly graded school may not be a reality. 

Also of note: Charter schools may have a specific focus. For example, the charter school may serve at-risk students, or offer a specialized curriculum or core academic program, provide early intervention programs, or serve exceptional education students. This is different from private schools in Clearwater, FL that take a more holistic approach to learning. 

Another important thing to note is that charter schools are not the same as magnet schools. Magnet schools are public schools with a particular theme or academic focus, such as mathematics, science, technology, business, or performing arts.

 

What is a Private School in Florida?

Private schools differ from public schools and charter schools because they are not publicly funded and can therefore govern themselves for the most part. For example, Christian schools in Clearwater, FL can control their class sizes and are exempt from the laws separating church and education. 

For a more technical definition, the state of Florida’s Department of Education states:

“A private school is defined in Section 1002.01(2), Florida Statutes, as “an individual, association, co-partnership, or corporation or department, division, or section of such organizations, that designates itself as an educational center that includes kindergarten or a higher grade” and is below the college level.”

Private schools can focus on a specific area, for example they may be limited to elementary, middle, or high school. However, in many cases, private schools are able to accommodate all grade levels, giving students the opportunity to learn in the same environment for their whole education. This can be beneficial for establishing close relationships with friends and teachers while also fostering growth.

 

What’s the Difference Between Public, Private, and Charter Schools in Florida?

Now that we’ve discussed the definitions of private and charter schools, we can dive into what makes these options so different. Of course, all schools have the needs of students at their core and as the anchor for their values, but there are some major differences. 

For example, public schools often run into major problems with budget cuts and running short-staffed. They may rely on a revolving door of teachers and substitutes who don’t know the school very well. Additionally, public schools often fall victim to large class sizes which can hold students back from the individual attention they need to learn. 

Additionally, charter schools may face the same budgetary restrictions. However, unlike public schools, they are less likely to run into issues dealing with rules passed down by the superintendent. 

Private schools stand out because they are not subject to the whims of politics and are able to dedicate themselves to the education of their students. Class sizes can be significantly smaller and the pool of substitute teachers comes from well known and fully vetted staff.

 

Should My Child Go to Public, Charter, or Private School?

Now is the big question: should my child go to public, charter, or private school? It all depends on the student and their individual needs. 

In many cases, parents do not believe private school is a choice due to the cost of tuition, however, there are several scholarships made available through the state of Florida to help empower parents with more choices. A Clearwater private school does not have to be out of reach just because of finances. 

Many parents choose a private school for the aspect of stability, community, and a more personalized and individualized education. Although your child may thrive in public schools or charter schools, they’ll have access to faith-based learning and top-notch college prep in a private school. 

Lakeside Christian School wants to help you make the right decision for your family. With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children who participate both in virtual learning and/or an in-person setting, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call. 

 

If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, a Clearwater, FL Christian school, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.

Does the Step Up Scholarship Apply to Virtual Learning?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more families than ever are choosing to enroll their children in virtual learning opportunities. In fact, Florida Virtual School, a public virtual school, reported that over 13,000 students were enrolled in the 2021-2022 school year. That number doesn’t include the growing number of students who are also attending private schools virtually. 

Of the thousands of students who are attending virtual school, many qualify for financial aid options just as in-person students would. But does the Step Up for Students Scholarship apply to those who are participating in virtual learning? 

In this brief article, our team of advisors at Lakeside Christian School, one of the Step Up for Students participating schools in Clearwater, FL, shares a basic guide on whether or not you can use Step Up for Students for virtual learning opportunities. 

 

Overview of the Step Up for Students Scholarship

Before learning whether you can use Step Up for Students scholarships for virtual learning, it’s important to cover a few basics about what Step Up for Students actually is. 

Originally created as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, Step Up for Students was made to help empower low-income students and their families to have more of a choice in their education. 

In short, the Step Up for Students scholarship allows parents the opportunity to take their children to participating private schools if they felt they were not being served with quality in their local schools. Furthermore, the Step Up for Students scholarship program targets students who tend to have the most limited options for improving the quality of their education.

Step Up for Students is one of two non-profit Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs) that issue scholarships and determine student eligibility for: 

  • The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC)
  • The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES)
  • The Gardiner Scholarship
  • The Hope Scholarship
  • The Reading Scholarship 

Families who are active duty military can also qualify for this scholarship. This scholarship may not cover 100% of tuition costs, but on average families may be awarded $7,000 toward their educational expenses/tuition.

 

Does Step Up for Students Cover Virtual Learning?

The most important factor to consider in determining whether Step Up for Students will cover your child for virtual learning is to understand if your child is attending schools that qualify for Step Up for Students in Clearwater, FL. Your student will need to attend a school that participates in this scholarship particularly.

Next, the state of Florida states the following: 

“The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship still includes language to allow students to take no more than 2 state-funded virtual courses. The Family Empowerment Scholarship for income-based students does not include that language. Students who participate in the Family Empowerment Scholarship will be able to use their scholarship funds for the Florida Virtual School as a private-paying student. Schools may also want to consider building Florida Virtual School courses into their tuition and fee schedule.”

Simply put, students who use their scholarship for Florida Virtual School may find that they are limited in the number of courses they take. However, if your student is attending a private school that has options for virtual courses in their tuition, you may be able to use the Step Up for Students Scholarship. You’ll need to discuss your specific situation with the team of advisors at Lakeside Christian School to discuss your financial situation and whether you can use the scholarship toward virtual courses.

 

Why to Consider Private High Schools in Clearwater, FL for Virtual Learning

With the option of Florida Virtual School, you might be wondering why you should bother sending your teen to a Christian high school in Clearwater, FL for virtual courses. In a private Christian high school, your teen will be invited to take part in virtual faith-based learning. They’ll also be part of smaller class sizes with the same level of attention that they would have gotten in person as well. 

Furthermore, your child will be invited to participate in extracurricular activities exactly as they would have in person. Community is a main factor in your child’s education experience, even in a virtual setting. 

If you’re hoping to learn more about the scholarship opportunities available for your children, don’t hesitate to contact one of the scholarship specialists at Lakeside Christian School. Private high schools in Clearwater, FL do not have to be out of reach due to finances, and relief is available even if you choose a virtual setting for your child.  

With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children from families of all socioeconomic backgrounds and income levels, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call today. 

Each year, Lakeside Christian School, an affordable private school in Clearwater, FL, provides over $250,000 in scholarships to qualified families. For more information and to schedule a tour, please call Jim Jensen, Administrator at (727) 477-8542 for new inquiries only. For all other concerns, please call (727) 461-3311.

 

If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, one of the Step Up for Students participating schools in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.

What if I Don’t Qualify for the Step Up Scholarship in Florida?

If you believe that a private school education is out of reach for your family, you may be surprised to learn that thousands of Florida families each year are awarded scholarships amounting to millions of dollars. One of the main scholarships that provides this funding is in the form of the Step Up For Students Scholarship. This scholarship provides an average of $7000 per year to students in K-12 for a variety of needs. But what if you don’t qualify for the Step Up scholarship? Are you simply out of luck for help paying for an affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL?

Our team at Lakeside Christian School, one of the premier private elementary schools in Clearwater, FL, has shared the requirements for the Step Up scholarship, as well as a few options for your family if you are considering applying for private school but are denied the Step Up for Students scholarship.

 

Step Up Scholarship Requirements

The Step Up for Students scholarship is a collection of scholarships from the state of Florida with differing requirements. Formerly known simply as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, this program began in 1988 to help empower low-income students and their families to have more of a choice in their education. The overall goal of the Step Up for Students scholarship is to allow parents the opportunity to take their children to participating private schools if they felt they were not being served well in their local public and/or charter schools. The Step Up for Students scholarship program targets students who tend to have the most limited options for improving the quality of their education.

A few of the requirements for this collection of scholarships include: 

The Income-Based Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship: A child may be eligible for an FTC scholarship for any of the following reasons:

  • A member of the household receives food stamps or federal assistance  
  • The household income qualifies the student for a free or reduced-price lunch
  • The household income is at or below the amounts indicated in the Step Up For Students eligibility chart
  • The child is homeless, in foster care, or in out-of-home care

Gardiner Scholarship: This scholarship is for children with special needs and unique abilities. Students between the ages of 3 and 22 who have yet to complete the 12th grade may qualify for the Gardiner scholarship. Your child may qualify for the Gardiner scholarship if they have:  

  • A qualifying disability or impairment  
  • A rare disease  
  • Developmental delays

Your child may also qualify if they are hospital or homebound. Please click here for the full list of qualifying disabilities, impairments, and requirements.

Reading Scholarship: This scholarship helps students that are struggling with reading who: 

  • Are in the third through fifth grades 
  • Score a 2 or less on the English Language Arts section of the Florida Standards Assessment for the previous year

All students, no matter their background or abilities, are entitled to a private education at Step Up for Students participating schools in Clearwater, FL, including Lakeside Christian School.

 

LCS FACTS Scholarship

If you don’t qualify for the Step Up for Students scholarship, you still may qualify for other scholarship opportunities. Lakeside Christian School provides over $250,000 in scholarships to qualified families each year, and many of these scholarships are not solely directed to Step Up for Students. 

Lakeside Christian School is committed to granting scholarships to families in need, which is why we created the FACTS scholarship. This scholarship is generously provided by our donors and helps those who are not recipients of Step Up for Students in Clearwater, FL.

If you don’t qualify for the scholarships above, you may still be able to use the FACTS program. This in-house scholarship is designed to create more affordable tuition for low-income families and is available to new families who have decided that Lakeside Christian School is right for them. Financial aid is available to all qualifying families through a process called FACTS. FACTS is an online financial aid assessment program.

For over 30 years, our school ministry has been blessed with the income required to meet budgets. Our desire is not to have to turn away any student due to finances, which is why we started offering the FACTS scholarship and LCS scholarship. In the past few years, we have substantially increased our tuition subsidy budgets to provide aid through reduced tuition so that families can enroll their students at Lakeside Christian School at a cost they can afford. 

Our team is proud to offer a variety of scholarship options, tuition assistance, and payment plans to help make quality education affordable for every family. Speak to a member of our team to learn how the FACTS scholarship option can help you. 

With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children from various socioeconomic backgrounds, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call. 

 

If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, an affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.

What Makes Private Christian Schools Different from Other Schools?

High school is an important time for your child and you might be thinking about how to set them up for success as they enter adulthood. If your child has been in public school their entire life, you might not think it’s worth it to transition to private school for high school or you might think it’s too late to change from public to private. However, that’s not necessarily the case, and your child can benefit greatly from a private high school in Clearwater, FL. 

In this brief article, the team at our Christian high school in Clearwater, FL has shared a few of the main factors that make private Christian schools different from other schools, and why you should consider enrolling your teen in one.

 

Faith-Based Education

If faith is important to you, then faith-based education should be on your list of priorities for your teen as they enter high school. High school is often a time when outside influences can take hold in your child’s life, sometimes for the worst. Having the foundation of faith as part of the school curriculum can help better prepare your child for how they should react when those influences are around. 

Furthermore, faith-based education helps your teen understand scripture and how it applies to practical situations in their lives. Going to Sunday school and church can provide some of that foundation, but having faith-based education will give your teen the time to dive deeper into critical analysis of the text of the Bible.

 

Smaller Class Sizes

Even if a faith-based education isn’t at the top of your priority list, all kids and teens can benefit from smaller class sizes. Unfortunately, due to budget restraints and a lack of resources, public schools often max out their class sizes and your teen can quickly become just another face in the crowd. 

In private high schools in Clearwater, FL, you will find smaller class sizes for students of all ages. That means that if your teen is struggling in any particular area, whether it is academically, socially, or emotionally, more support and resources are available. They won’t be battling for the attention of their teachers because the classroom is a more manageable size. Furthermore, class discussions and group work is often more challenging and rewarding when classes are smaller. When everyone has the opportunity to make their voice heard in a classroom discussion, students may be more motivated to participate.

 

Freedom from Budget Cuts and Politics

It’s an unfortunate reality, but public schools are in a continual state of change because of budget cuts and politics. Depending on the outcome of any given election, some facets of your teen’s education may be on the chopping block. Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you fall on, we can all agree that putting our kids’ and teens’ education first is crucial. 

When you have your child enrolled in a private high school, you can enjoy the knowledge that your child’s future doesn’t rest in the hands of people who haven’t set foot in that high school. You can also get to know the administrators of the school so that you can understand when or why specific decisions are made, and make sure your voice is heard in a way that you simply can’t do with public schools.

 

Close-Knit Community

In a private high school, there is often a closer sense of community. This community isn’t limited to just your child, but to yourself and your whole family as well. For example, your teen will make lifelong friends, but beyond their friends they will also have the opportunity to build relationships with their teachers, faculty, and staff so that they can better foster growth beyond high school. 

For your family and yourself, you’ll have a smaller community full of like-minded parents to connect with. After all, the friendships don’t stop with your teen — you can create lifelong friendships as well. You’ll be invited to engage with the school and get involved in activities that help you grow closer to your teen as well as closer to your community.

 

Better COVID Planning

If COVID-19 showed us one thing, it’s that a coordinated and clear approach needs to be taken in cases of emergencies. We can’t predict what will happen next with the pandemic, and with any hope things will improve — but if they don’t improve, Christian high schools in Clearwater, FL are prepared. Here at Lakeside Christian School, we have set forth clear guidelines that will take the guesswork out of the way that we handle COVID-19 outbreaks to mitigate future disruption.

 

College Preparation

Preparing teens for college is an important part of high school, but in public school you may find that college prep is put on the back burner. For students who have become complacent in lesson plans provided by public schools, a private school may offer more challenging coursework to better prepare them for college and beyond. 

To take that a step further, it’s important to mention that the focused college and career prep courses in private school are often not available in public school. For example, some public school students may need to hire a tutor for college prep courses, which takes place outside of school time. A private school offers those college prep courses during class time so that your teen can spend their time at home focusing on growing in other areas, and volunteering or working. 

With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children who participate both in virtual learning and/or an in-person setting, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call. 

 

If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, a private high school in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.

3 Scholarships to Help Cover Tuition Costs for Private Christian Education

Studies have found that private schools have several benefits for students and their families, including smaller class size, faith-based education, a more challenging curriculum, and a better sense of community. Unfortunately, many people wrongly believe that these benefits come at an unattainable cost. You might be surprised to learn that a high cost for private education isn’t necessarily the case, as Florida has created several opportunities to give parents more of a choice in their child’s education through the availability of several scholarships.

In this brief article, our team of advisors at Lakeside Christian School, an affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL, has shared some key information for parents looking to take advantage of Florida’s variety of scholarships so that a private education is within reach.

 

Step Up for Students Scholarship

One of the scholarships that you might be the most surprised to learn about is called the Step Up for Students scholarship. This scholarship originated as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which began in 1988, to help empower low income students and their families to have more of a choice in their education.

Step Up for Students is a little bit different because it is managed by the Department of Education, and it is one of two non-profit Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs) that issue scholarships and determine student eligibility for:

 

  • The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC)
  • The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES)
  • The Gardiner Scholarship
  • The Hope Scholarship
  • The Reading Scholarship

 

The Step Up for Students scholarship allows parents the opportunity to take their children to participating private schools if they felt they were not being served with quality in their local schools. The Step Up for Students scholarship program is different because it targets students who tend to have the most limited options for improving the quality of their education.

Some examples of the types of needs this scholarship is intended to address include: students who struggle with bullying, students who struggle with reading, students who have special needs or medical needs, or parents who would like better opportunities for their children by placing them in a private school.

Families who are active duty military can also qualify for this scholarship. This scholarship may not cover 100% of tuition costs, but on average families may be awarded $7,000 toward their educational expenses/tuition.

 

McKay Scholarship

If your child has disabilities, they may qualify for the McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities. This scholarship fund provided nearly 30,000 Florida students with special needs the opportunity to attend a participating private school during the 2020-21 school year.

The McKay Scholarship Program also offers parents public school choice, allowing the parents or guardians of an eligible special needs student to choose to transfer the student to another public school if their current school is no longer meeting their needs.

Currently, the McKay scholarship is available to all students currently in the Florida Public School system who have a qualified IEP or 504 plan for specific learning issues. A few examples of the conditions suffered by students who can attain this scholarship include:

 

  • Students with learning disabilities or neurodivergence
  • Students who require accommodations like adaptive equipment
  • Students who have mobility needs
  • Students who suffer from severe food allergies
  • And more

 

Please note: This scholarship is now combined with the Gardiner Scholarship and may not cover 100% of tuition or expenses. There are additional guidelines which must be met to qualify for this scholarship as well.

 

FACTS Scholarship

Another scholarship opportunity is the FACTS scholarship, which is intended to help families who have an income-based need for more affordable tuition. The FACTS scholarship is available to all parents who desire that their student attend Lakeside Christian School. You’ll need to speak with one of Lakeside Christian School’s advisors who specializes in private elementary schools in Clearwater, FL to discuss the requirements for this scholarship.

 

Additional Scholarship Opportunities and How to Apply

There are a few additional scholarship opportunities for private schools in Clearwater, FL:

 

  • Family Empowerment Scholarship: The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) is a scholarship program offered by the State of Florida through the Department of Education. It is intended for low-income and working-class families. This is different from the Step Up For Students program.
  • AAA Scholarship Fund: The AAA Scholarship Foundation awards scholarships solely to qualifying low-income, disabled and/or displaced students. The AAA Scholarship Foundation is one of the only approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit scholarship organizations exclusively serving qualifying low-income, disabled and/or displaced students through these tax credit scholarship programs in multiple states.

 

If you’re hoping to learn more about the scholarship opportunities available for your children, don’t hesitate to contact one of the scholarship specialists at Lakeside Christian School. Christian elementary schools in Clearwater do not have to be out of reach due to finances, and there is relief for parents who want a better education for their children while helping remove them from unsafe situations, bullying, or reading problems.

With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children from families of all socioeconomic backgrounds and income levels, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call.

Each year, Lakeside, an affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL, provides over $250,000 in scholarships to qualified families. For more information and to schedule a tour, please call Jim Jensen, Administrator at (727) 477-8542. New inquiries only. For all other concerns, please use: (727) 461-3311.

 

If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, a affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.

Choosing the Best Educational Experience for Your Child During the Pandemic

Although it is anticipated that students between the ages of 5 and 12 will soon be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, schools are still coping with day-to-day challenges and changes, and navigating the best way to keep students safe. Add in the fact that many public schools are caught in a tug-of-war with the state for funding and mask mandates, and it creates a perfect storm of stress for educators and parents alike. With that in mind, many parents are still considering changes to their original education plan, looking for the best educational experience available during and after the pandemic.

In this brief article, the team at our Clearwater, FL Christian school has shared a few tips to help you understand your child’s educational options and explains why it’s never too late to change to a private school like Lakeside Christian School.

 

Consider Virtual Learning for Independent Learners

Virtual learning has been a staple at many schools navigating COVID outbreaks. Certainly during 2020, virtual learning proved it’s worth. Yet the public school system hasn’t prioritized keeping virtual learning as an option for medically vulnerable students or for those who prefer the independence of virtual learning.

Virtual learning has many of the same benefits as in-person learning, but it sometimes has a bad reputation because there is a stigma that, if given the opportunity for flexibility, students won’t actually commit to learning. However, that stigma is largely unfounded because your child will still be part of the class and as such will receive individualized attention and have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in group activities and discussions. Where virtual learning actually differs is in both the social aspects and the ability to take more personal responsibility regarding one’s own schedule.

During virtual learning at a Christian middle school in Clearwater, FL, your child will still be expected to participate in classroom activities via live video sessions and message boards. They will also still receive assignments and homework just as though they have attended in-person. But, unlike classes that take place in-person, your child may have more of an opportunity to learn at their own pace at various times of the day when they feel they may be more motivated for particular subjects.

If you have a child who you believe will thrive in a virtual environment, you can connect with the school virtually as well to learn more and schedule a tour. You may find it helpful to attend a virtual open house, visit the school’s website, or tune in to a virtual information session. If this is a return “visit” to find out more about a particular area of the school, such as extracurriculars, curriculum, or the specifics of a college prep program, then a private Zoom call may be more appropriate.

Understand COVID Precautions for In-Person Learning

If your child learns best in an in-person environment, that shouldn’t have to stop just because of COVID. The key here is choice. Being able to choose between in-person or virtual instruction and not being at the whim of a school district can make your COVID-19 plans less nerve-wracking.

If you are considering in-person learning for your child, here are some examples of the types of questions you may want to ask a potential school, as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  1. What prevention strategies are you currently using to keep my child safe in school?
  2. How will you keep parents and caregivers updated on any changes in the school’s prevention strategies?
  3. How and when are you updating your protocols for COVID-19?
  4. Will you be hosting information sessions about COVID-19 vaccination for parents, guardians, and eligible students?
  5. Are you requiring teachers, staff, or students 12 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
  6. Will you be providing screening testing regularly?
  7. What happens if my child’s teacher gets sick from COVID-19?
  8. Are there procedures in place for contact tracing?
  9. What is your quarantine policy if my child comes into close contact with someone who has COVID-19?
  10. Are you allowing visitors on campus? And if so, what procedures are you using for guests?
  11. Are you using outdoor spaces for learning, extracurricular activities, or mealtime?
  12. What are you doing to keep students safe when they are eating meals?
  13. What are my remote learning options if my child has to quarantine or isolate?

Of course, COVID precautions aren’t the only thing you should ask about. Extracurricular activities and learning opportunities outside of the classroom can be just as important to your student’s in-person learning and educational experience as lesson plans. You may want to ask a private middle school in Clearwater, FL what types of activities students can expect to participate in on a regular basis.

When Can You Change Schools?

There seems to be the idea that you can’t, or shouldn’t change your child’s school once the academic year has begun. However, that’s not always the case. If your child is struggling in a traditional public school because of the impacts of COVID-19, you have the option to switch to one of the private Christian schools in Clearwater, FL.

With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children who participate both in virtual learning and/or an in-person setting, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. We also have set forth clear guidelines that will take the guesswork out of the way that we handle COVID-19 outbreaks to mitigate future disruption. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call.

 

If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, a Christian middle school in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.

When Should I Apply For the Step Up Scholarship?

For many people, the ability to send their children to private school seems out of reach because of cost. However, in recent years the State of Florida has made strides to bring private school within reach for thousands, possibly even millions, of students with the popular Step Up for Students scholarship. In fact, as of 2021 around 62% of students in Florida (2.2 million children) are eligible for a tax-credit scholarship or voucher.

If you’re considering applying to Step Up for Students participating schools in Clearwater, FL, there are a few important steps to understand so that you can apply and qualify for this scholarship before funds run out. In this brief article, our team of advisors at Lakeside Christian School shares the most important things to know about the Step Up for Students scholarship and how to take full advantage of the program.

 

What You Need to Know About Step Up for Students in Clearwater, FL

Step Up for Students scholarships is part of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which was initiated in 1998 to give lower-income students and families more choice in regard to where to receive an education. That scholarship allowed parents the opportunity to take their children to participating private schools if they felt they were not being served with quality in their local public schools. It has since evolved to include four separate scholarship opportunities:

  • Florida Tax Credit: Provides students in kindergarten through 12th grade with a scholarship to assist in school choice, expenses, and transportation to public or private schools.
  • Family Empowerment (formerly known as the Gardiner Scholarship): Created to help children with unique abilities and special needs by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers, including schools, therapists, specialists, curriculum, technology – even a college savings account.
  • The Hope Scholarship: Available to students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade who are enrolled in a Florida public school and have been bullied, harassed, assaulted, threatened and/or a victim of other violent acts.
  • The Reading Scholarship: Created to help children in third through fifth grade who struggle with reading.

The Step Up for Students scholarship program is different because it targets students who tend to have the most limited options for improving the quality of their education. Families who are active duty military can also qualify for this scholarship. It should be noted, however, that these scholarships may not cover 100% of tuition costs.

 

When Should You Apply for the Step Up Scholarship?

Although the Step Up for Students Scholarship is a great opportunity, you may find that funds quickly run out if you wait too long to apply. In some cases, the deadline to apply for scholarships for the following school year is June 4.

It can take anywhere from 3-5 weeks to process your application, and in most cases Clearwater, FL private middle schools prefer that you apply for scholarships before or during the application process for admission. However, you may find it more beneficial to speak with the school you are considering directly. School advisors will help guide you through the process of both applying for admission and applying for financial assistance.

It should also be noted that Step Up for Students Scholarship prioritizes the application process for lower-income applicants. If you are applying for a scholarship and do not meet the income requirements, your application may still be processed but it may take slightly longer for a response.

 

How to Apply for the Step Up Scholarship

When Step Up For Students is accepting applications for the income-based scholarships families must complete an online application and submit the required supporting documentation. These documents may vary from one application to the next depending on each family’s situation. However, you will typically need to submit:

  • Paystubs (30 consecutive days closest to when you submit your application)
  • Proof of residency for all members in the household (i.e., health insurance, Medicaid, income documentation, utility bills, court custody documents or residential lease listing household members)
  • Any other sources of income (i.e., unemployment benefits, social security benefits, child support benefits, etc.)
  • Driver’s license or passport for primary and secondary parents

To apply for a Christian middle school in Clearwater, FL, including Lakeside Christian School, you will need to speak with the school’s advisors to discuss any additional information that may be needed.

Once you have been awarded a scholarship, you will need to print your award letter and submit it to the school of your choice. Then, the school administrator can complete and submit a School Commitment Form for your student to let Step Up for Students know your child is attending their school on the scholarship. It is crucial to note: for a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship student to be properly enrolled and receive payment, the parent MUST take the award letter to the school of your choice as soon as possible, in order to secure your award.

With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children from families of all socioeconomic backgrounds and income levels, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call.

Each year, Lakeside, the best private school in Clearwater, FL, provides over $250,000 in scholarships to qualified families. For more information and to schedule a tour, please call Jim Jensen, Administrator at (727) 477-8542. New inquiries only. For all other concerns, please use: (727) 461-3311.

 

If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, a Christian middle school in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.

Virtual Learning: What to Expect and How to Get Started

The COVID-19 pandemic created a major need for virtual and hybrid learning. Although many children thrive in an in-person classroom setting, some are finding more comfort in completing their classes online at home. Although the pandemic has shifted, this trend is here to stay. According to recent statistics, In 2021, 75% of schools had or have plans to operate online. This includes 45% elementary students, 64% of middle school students, and 63% of high school students.

If you’re in the category of parents who are considering switching your child to virtual learning, sometimes called eLearning or remote learning, it’s important to consider a few factors and steps to manage your expectations. The team of educators at Clearwater private school Lakeside Christian School have put together a list of what to expect and how to get started so that your child can get the most out of their virtual learning experience.

 

What to Expect with Virtual Learning

Virtual learning has many of the same benefits as in-person learning. For example, your student will still receive individualized attention and will have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in group activities and discussions. Where virtual learning differs is in both the social aspects and the ability to take more personal responsibility regarding one’s own schedule.

During virtual learning at a Clearwater FL Christian school, your child will still be expected to participate in classroom activities via live video sessions and message boards. They will also still receive assignments and homework just as though they have attended in-person. However, your child may have more of an opportunity to learn at their own pace at various times of the day when they feel they may be more motivated for particular subjects. For example, if your child finds that they have an easier time focusing on math during the morning, they may be able to set aside more time in the morning to work on their math lessons.

Virtual learning gives parents an opportunity to get involved in their child’s learning schedule and pace as well. Some children are self-starters and won’t need as much guidance to arrive on time to their video classes, but others might need a little nudge from parents to keep them on track. It’s important to remember to manage your expectations and know that you may need to be available to your child during the day if they choose remote learning.

Aside from these differences, your child may crave in-person connection with their peers. They will still be encouraged to participate in school activities and extracurriculars to build these relationships.

In the end, both the virtual and in-person students will receive attention and care from their instructors and will be on the path to success, whether that means going to college or another program after graduation.

 

Tips for Remote Learning Success

Remote learning is not without its challenges. There are a few tips you should consider to help your child get the most out of their remote or hybrid learning experience.

 

  1. Set up a dedicated workspace. This will help your child keep their mindset on school and create a more clear mental boundary between school activities and home life for relaxing. If possible, try to create a space outside of their bedroom where they will be more visible so that you can easily check in with them.
  2. Create a strict schedule and stick to it. Just as adults who work remotely have found, sticking to a schedule can help your child avoid working on schoolwork at all hours of the day and night and can help them stay in a more comfortable routine. This can be especially helpful if your child does plan to transition to in-person learning again in the future.
  3. Encourage interaction with teachers and classmates. Virtual learning can be isolating for some. The more your child talks with their teacher and classmates, the easier it will be for them to stay on track.
  4. Give your teen some freedom with their schedule. Virtual classes offer a very unique lesson in time management. This is crucial for teens to learn in order to succeed at future jobs, so let them practice with eLearning. Let them create a schedule and check in on them periodically without micromanaging. Check in with your teens’ teachers to make sure they are still on track, but give them a little leeway to create their own schedule and routine.

 

Getting Started with eLearning

If you’re considering switching your child or teen to virtual learning, it’s important to not only evaluate the situation and your level of comfort regarding COVID, but to also speak with the school’s advisors on whether your child might be a good fit. Christian high schools in Clearwater, FL may offer some level of virtual learning or eLearning, but it’s crucial that you find the right fit for your child’s individual needs.

With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children from families of all socioeconomic backgrounds and income levels, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. For more information on how your student can succeed in a virtual learning program, get in touch with Lakeside Christian School today.

 

If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, a Christian high school in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.

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