DeSantis visits Santa Fe, announces new funding

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Santa Fe College’s Perry Construction Institute on Wednesday morning to announce an $89 million investment in Florida’s education future, including funds for Santa Fe (SF) to start a career and technical education charter school.

Flanked by SF students and an under construction home, DeSantis reiterated his commitment to the state’s future workers, especially those who attend technical and trade schools.

“We believe Santa Fe, like many of our state colleges, have really done a good job of providing students with skills in very high-demand fields,” DeSantis said, adding that the college has a 97 percent job placement rate for its career and technical programs.

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In 2019, DeSantis established his goal for Florida to move from the bottom half of states in workforce education to the top state. Since then, Florida has invested $3.5 billion for the initiative.

The $89 million released today forms part of that goal. The funds will go to a number of programs at state colleges and school districts to fund the following:

  • $26 million for dual enrollment programs in STEAM-related programs
  • $20 million for accelerate pathways in cybersecurity and IT
  • $12 million to create more apprenticeship programs
  • $10 million to create career and technical education charter schools
  • $9 million for critical workforce needs (like nursing, law enforcement and supply chain logistics)
  • $2 million for entrepreneurship
  • $12 million for educator resources and data-driven support for students and employers.

DeSantis said moving forward is tough because of policies coming down from Washington, D.C., where Congress and President Joe Biden are “joined at the hip.”

Santa Fe College President Paul Broadie

“We’re really having to counterbalance a lot of the bad policies that we’ve seen that have caused a lot of problems, and I think we’ve done it well,” DeSantis said.

He mentioned inflation as a key problem hurting family budgets and even building materials, like those needed for the in-progress home behind him that will go to Habitat for Humanity.

Florida ranks No. 1 in the nation for new business formations, DeSantis said, increasing 61 percent since 2019 and beating out California by more than 100,000.

Two reasons DeSantis cited that new businesses might want to form here are that owners know that the state will be open and that it’s workforce has top talent due to the state’s emphasis on workforce training.

SF President Paul Broadie said the new career and technical education school will allow high school students to finish with three credentials: a high school diploma, an associate degree and a workforce credential.

Wednesday’s investment will allow similar dual enrollment schools to start at Northwest Florida State College, Tallahassee Community College, St. Pete College and Miami-Dade College.

“This investment in workforce is so essential,” Broadie said. “When we talk about economic and social mobility, it starts with our workforce. It starts with education at the center.”

DeSantis also highlighted the importance of the healthcare industry and the demand for nurses. He said Florida has been a much better place to be a nurse than some other states.

“Really, across the board, we’ve been able to make progress, and we’re really excited about doing that,” DeSantis said. “So today’s another step, another great step. I look forward to what happens.”

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