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The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

Rigor Over Regulation

School declines vouchers to chart its own course
Caden Liu

Florida has recently expanded its private school voucher program significantly, granting vouchers worth approximately $8,000 per student to all families, regardless of income level. This change, signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in March, was embraced by many private schools as they eagerly accepted state funding. However, Trinity Prep has chosen to maintain its financial and curricular independence by declining state tuition grants.

The voucher programs, including Florida’s Step Up Scholarship, redirect public funding to private schools. Trinity’s decision to remain independent stems from its belief in the value of autonomy in education, curriculum management and student life.

Head of School Byron Lawson explained that independence enables Trinity Prep to set its own teaching requirements beyond what state certification demands. Trinity Prep’s independence also grants flexibility in responding directly to students’ needs. 

“The freedom that we have to meet [students’] needs is sometimes based on the freedom of our ability to move the curriculum, throwing [in] another math class, throwing [in] another science class or having independent study,” Lawson said.

Director of Learning and Instruction Dr. Stephanie Dryden echoed messages of how independence frees the school from standardized state testing, such as the Florida Standards Assessment. 

“We do our own curriculum,” Dryden said. “We do our own evaluations and processes.”

Moreover, Dryden explained that the school does not have to follow the state’s curriculum regulations, such as the temporary ban on AP Psychology that happened at the start of this school year in Florida.

The school’s focus on its mission and student growth drives its education model.

Dryden further explained how the school utilizes internal benchmarks like SAT, ACT and AP scores rather than state tests to gauge student progress. 

“In high school, we have the kids take the PSAT right in 10th and 11th grade,” Dryden said. “And that’s something that lets us check and do benchmarks and reflections.” 

Smaller classes and close mentoring allow tailored support outside rigid state systems. 

“We’re in a completely different situation … and in between the smaller classes and with other kinds of measurements, we are able to clearly and quickly identify right where students might be stumbling,” Dryden said. 

In opting out of vouchers, Trinity Prep joins other prominent Florida private schools, including Gulliver Prep and Lake Highland, seeking to retain autonomy. Many families are drawn to Trinity Prep for its independence and academic rigor free from external constraints.

One local school that chose to accept vouchers was Park Maitland School. In September, due to alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party, Gov. DeSantis and his administration suspended the use of school choice scholarships at Park Maitland and three other schools. According to the Orlando Sentinel, 319 Park Maitland students participating in the voucher program will have their scholarships revoked despite Park Maitland’s statements against Chinese involvement. 

“Our schools abide by local, state and federal laws, and do not have ties to any government or political party, either foreign or domestic,” said Park Maitland in a statement on Sept. 25. “Our curriculum is accredited, standards-based and academically rigorous.”

Without the Step Up scholarships, 319 families are left scrambling to find the thousands of dollars necessary to continue their children’s education at Park Maitland. The average scholarship amount was around $8,000 per student, so in total, families could be faced with over $2 million in unexpected tuition costs. This difficult financial dilemma illustrates the dependence that can come with relying on state voucher funds. 

As Trinity Prep prioritizes its autonomy from the government, it allows the school to make its own decisions on everything including scholarships. This independence prevents parents from the potential financial impacts that Park Maitland families are currently facing.

Lawson said that Trinity Prep offers robust donor-funded financial assistance, with over $2.5 million provided last year, so students of all backgrounds can attend regardless of state vouchers. The financial assistance is need-based and aims to provide support to qualified students who may not otherwise be able to afford tuition.

As voucher utilization grows across Florida, Trinity Prep is charting its own path focused on independence, academic excellence and individual student attention.

“Our responsibility to [the students] is to give every resource we have, both talent, personnel and finances to make [their] atmosphere as great an atmosphere for your success,” Lawson said.“I think that’s why you come to Trinity Prep and that’s why you stay at Trinity Prep.” 

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About the Contributors
Gustavo Membreno, Podcast
Gustavo Membreno is a sophomore entering his first year as a staffer. He is currently a part of the Podcast Department. In his free time, he likes to play the piano, soccer, and chess, and watch movies with his family. Contact at [email protected].
Nikhil Daniel, Staff Writer
Nikhil Daniel is a sophomore entering his first year on staff as a writer for the opinions department. When Nikhil is not debating, he likes to play chess, listen to Drake, and binge-watch "Suits". Contact him at [email protected].
Caden Liu, Graphics Editor
Caden Liu is a junior entering his second year on staff as graphics editor. When not busy with schoolwork, Caden enjoys playing tennis, listening to music, and watching TV shows like “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother.” He also enjoys spending time with friends, family, and his dog. Contact him at [email protected].

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