LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Local school districts are choosing not to participate in Governor Rick Scott's teacher debit card program.
The governor rolled out the program a few weeks ago, offering $250 tax-free debit cards to teachers. But local district leaders say that announcement came too late.
Ami Desamours, assistant superintendent business and finance for Lee County Schools, says, "because we start school earlier than many districts across the state, many of our teachers had already been to the store to purchase their supplies. The debit card didn't allow for reimbursment for those expenses so we decided for this year to just stick with the checks they've been receiving in the past."
Teachers will still get reimbursed a specified amount for supplies purchased for the classroom. Last year, they got about $185 each. The money is dependent on how many teachers are with the district on September 1, so school leaders don't have a total at this time. That's another reason why they say reimbursement is more effective than the debit card right now.
She says they may consider moving to the debit card next year, if there is more advanced notice. Charlotte and Collier Counties also opted not to use the cards for similar reasons.
Hendry County is the only one in Southwest Florida that will participate in the program. District leaders say they like the idea of teachers shopping tax free, and they can use the debit cards throughout the school year.
Governor Rick Scott says he's excited about the seven districts that are participating in the program. He says, "we went through a bidding process so it was just approved this session and we got it done as quickly as we could. My goal is listen, listen listen. Teachers have great ideas. This idea came from teachers in my listening tour last year."