Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pensacola's Promise Plan

My Motion to the Committee of the Whole on April 19,2010:

That City Council adopt the Pensacola Promise, an economic development plan to provide last dollar tuition assistance to eligible residents of the City of Pensacola and commit to annual funding of an initial amount of $250,000 in the 2010-2011 fiscal year and a recurring amount up to but not exceeding $400,000 thereafter. Funding for this program is to be 100% funded through either contributions from ESP rate payers or thru a return on the Citizens investment in their gas utility.

Point of clarification that the 1st source of funding is to be a voluntary amount added to ESP rate payers,(@ 50 cents per customer you pay for the plan, or $1.00 per city resident) the 2nd source being the return on investment to the citizens of Pensacola from their revenues at ESP. My discussion about marketing and ESP's current funding levels came from the fact that ESP will most certainly get regional and national recognition for their commitment to fund the Pensacola's Promise. Our city manager has pointed out that ESP is in direct competition with other local utilities for new customers. ESP already contributes to Unite Escambia, Foundations for the future @ the chamber, PEDC for economic development and promotion, Bill Bond Baseball, The Saenger Theatre, and we even publish our own cookbook to market ESP and local restaurants. An investment in the growth of our city, access to education for our citizens, and attracting new businesses to our area are all within the mission of ESP and the City of Pensacola.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Who Benefits from Pensacola's Promise???

Just in case anyone missed the point yesterday...who benefits from the Promise Plan?


WE
ALL
DO!!!!















Pensacola’s Promise Plan
A place-based Universal Scholarship for City Residents

Who benefits from Pensacola’s Promise?
City of Pensacola Residents graduating from our schools

What is the Pensacola’s Promise?
A scholarship for post secondary education

When can a student use the promise scholarship?
Upon HS graduation & up to 4 years for college

Where can a student use the Pensacola’s Promise Plan?
PJC, UWF and Trade Schools

Why is Pensacola looking at having the Promise Plan?
For Workforce & Economic Development

How does the scholarship work?
It is a Last Dollar funded plan after Pell Grants & Bright Futures funds

Pensacola's Promise Scholarship Agreement

Unanimously Approved April 14, 2010 by Pensacola's Promise plan committee

Pensacola’s Promise SCHOLARSHIP AGREEMENT
PURPOSE
To provide each City of Pensacola resident graduating from Escambia County Schools with the opportunity to attend post –secondary education with up to a 100% tuition scholarship .City of Pensacola residents graduating from Private and Parochial schools will receive benefits at a reduced rate with the opportunity to increase their eligibility through verified volunteer hours.
ELIGIBILITY
1. All City of Pensacola residents who graduate from Escambia County Public Schools, Private and Parochial schools, and have been residents of the City of Pensacola for four years or more. (Enrollment and residency must be continuous.)
2. Admitted to and enrolled at Pensacola Junior College, University of West Florida, George Stone Technical Center, other approved trade/certificate schools in Escambia County.
a. Make regular progress toward a degree or certification.
b. Must maintain a 2.0 grade point average at the post-secondary institution.
c. Complete a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester.
d. If the GPA drops below 2.0, a student will enter a one semester probationary period and a student may be reinstated if he/she is able to bring their GPA back to at least a 2.0.
EXTENT OF BENEFITS
The tuition benefit will be graduated on the basis of length of residency in the City of Pensacola and student transcripts for school enrollment.
Length of Attendance.......Public Schools Benefit Private/Parochial Benefit
K-12.....................................100% ........................................50%
1-12.......................................95% ......................................... 45%
2-12.......................................95% ..........................................45%
3-12.......................................95% ..........................................45%
4-12.......................................90% ..........................................40%
5-12 ......................................85% ...........................................35%
6-12.......................................80% ...........................................30%
7-12.......................................75% ............................................25%
8-12.......................................70% ............................................20%
9-12.......................................65% ............................................15%
10-12.......................................0% .............................................0%
11-12.......................................0% ..............................................0%
12.............................................0% ..............................................0%
Private/Parochial benefits increase based on volunteer hours within the City of Pensacola during their enrollment outside the public school system.
TERMS OF SCHOLARSHIP
This scholarship program provides up to four (4) years of tuition (120 credit hours, additional credit hours approved based on eligibility) for post-secondary education (per the scale above). The students must be a full-time student, taking 12 credit hours per semester minimum. Individual summer school classes will be covered as long as the class applies toward the degree or certification program in which the student is enrolled and is taken at their designated school of choice. A special permission form must be completed AND approved in order to take summer classes at other than the school of choice.

The post-secondary education must be completed within 5 years of the date of high school graduation. Four years shall be defined as the receipt of a bachelor’s degree or 120 credit hours towards a degree, whichever occurs first. This education must be pursued per the requirements listed above.

DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS
Scholarship recipients must submit:
* FAFSA application and eligibility determination
• A Pensacola’s Promise application form.
• A Pensacola’s Promise scholarship acceptance form.
• A transcript from the previous semester indicating as a minimum: classes taken, grades and credit hours for those classes and cumulative GPA. (Provisions may be made to have this submitted by the post-secondary institution.)
• All changes to contact information as they occur. This includes home and school addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.
• A Pensacola’s Promise scholarship transfer form if changing school of choice.
• A Pensacola’s Promise summer school exception form in order to take summer classes at other than the school of choice.

DISTRIBUTION OF SCHOLARSHIP FUNDS
All funds will be paid directly to the educational institution. Funds will be paid a maximum of three times per year. Payments will be paid after the drop/add period of the fall, winter and summer/spring semester as defined by each educational institution. Any refunds due to the scholarship will be paid directly to the Pensacola’s Promise.

EXCEPTIONS
No exceptions to the above requirements will be allowed unless approved by the Pensacola’s Promise Board, its Appeals Committee or their designee.
Appeals are initiated by contacting the Pensacola’s Promise Executive Administrator.

ELIGIBLE SCHOOLS
Pensacola Junior College
University of West Florida
George Stone Technical Center
Other approved Trade/Certificate Schools within Escambia County.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Promise Plan to be presented...Mack is Wrong!

Tomorrow at 3:15 the Pensacola Promise committee will submit the final report on the proposed plan and its costs. I am immeasurably proud of the work our committee has done in all 7 Council Districts and the plan we have developed.
Pensacola's Promise Plan:
1) guarantees City residents (after attending a minimum of 4 years)upon graduating from an Escambia County School (public, private & parochial)up to 100% tuition for PJC, UWF or George Stone.

2) will cost less than $400,000 per year of NON TAXPAYER FUNDS

3) will establish Pensacola as a City that is committed to improving our labor force, attracting good industry, giving back to its citizens and raising our education levels.

Our committee could not have done more to make this project a comprehensive low cost HOME RUN for Pensacola, yet before we have even been heard naysayers such as Councilwoman Mack (who obviously hasn't read or heard the actual plan) have come out against it. In her combination council member/candidate website, Ms. Mack states

"COMMENTARY -- When the Pensacola City Council agreed to consider a proposal from Councilwoman DeWeese regarding this scholarship concept, there were two elements that were clearly identified by at least several Council members as critical to a favorable consideration: (1) that the program must be equitable to all City students whether they attend public, parochial, or private schools, and (2) that the major source of funding for the program must be private funds. I am deeply disappointed to see that the final proposal discriminates against students in non-public schools and is dependent solely on City contributions, and I will therefore not support the program."

The councilwoman is WRONG on both counts. The plan does provide a means for private school kids to participate and get up to 100% of needed funds for PJC, UWF and George Stone. The committee was in fact thanked by the principal of Catholic High School for including their children in the program.

Second, NO TAX dollars are used to fund the program. All administrative costs will be borne by a not-for-profit and the City's ONLY responsibility will be its contribution.

I am concerned that this sort of uninformed decision making and lack of respect for our committee by not even listening to the presentation before passing her judgment shows a trait that may keep Ms. Mack from being an effective Mayor. A strong mayor should be deliberative, listen to the community, allow the process to be completed,analyze the facts and weigh all options before making a decision about a proposal like Pensacola Promise which will impact generations to come. At least listen to the proposal and discuss the Promise plan with your peers before passing such judgements.

My hope is for the remainder of my colleagues to see this opportunity for what it can do: Promise every child in Pensacola the chance to be whatever they dream!