President Joel Ivy called the Zoom meeting to order. Irma Cole led the invocation, pledge, and Four-Way Test.
 
Trey Harden handled the introduction of guests and visiting Rotarians, who included: Scott Headley and Andrew Troller, guests of Michael Huff, Greg Agohian, guest of Melody Rider, and John Fullerton, guest of Mike Loudon. Doug McCall from the Rotary Club of Wallasey, England was a visiting Rotarian.
 
Rick Maxey was happy to be celebrating his 36th wedding anniversary with his lovely bride. Michelle Ledford was happy to be celebrating her 12th anniversary as a Rotarian. And DG Mark Scolnick was happy that the Rotary District 6890 conference was successful.
 
For announcements, Irma Cole gave an update on the Rotary Cares a Ton Challenge.  If you want to participate with a financial contribution, tell Irma the amount or 5 pounds per $1 donated.  Send Irma an email regarding the weight of the donation (irmacole26@gmail.com).  The deadline is May 31. Irma also invited the club to join the current STARS class for another work day on May 22 at 8:30 AM at the Carl G. Schowe Boys & Girls Club trailer behind Crystal Lake Elementary School. 
 
Todd Christian reminded the club about the Anniversary Dinner scheduled for June 22, 2021 at Lone Palm. Jack Lowman reminded us about a team trivia fellowship event on May 27th at 6:00 PM at The Heights, which will include finger foods and buy-your-own drinks. President Joel reminded the club of two proposed bylaw changes: and encouraged good attendance at next week’s in-person and Zoom hybrid meeting so a sufficient quorum is present to call for a vote on the changes.
 
President Joel then introduced Billy Townsend, a local author and advocate (and spouse of Julie Townsend, of course!), as our speaker. Billy discussed concerns he observes in the way the State of Florida current administers its school voucher programs. He contrasted reputable, well-capitalized, and accredited school such as Lakeland Christian School and All Saints Academy with apparently less affluent schools that tend to have a very high number of minority and/or ESE students but not necessarily the appropriate services or resources to serve these students with excellence.
 
Billy explained the five types of Step Up for Students scholarships and credits currently available, which include the Florida Tax Credit, the Hope/anti-bully Scholarship, the Florida Empowerment Scholarship, and McKay and Gardiner Scholarships, the two latter of which are used for students with special needs or disabilities.
 
Billy also offered ideas for reform. He suggests more accountability and expectation be put on the state employees in the Step up for Students program to engage in meaningful oversight of the schools receiving vouchers. He also believes it would be appropriate to require all schools receiving Step Up dollars to be accredited or at least demonstrate a meaningful capital to student ratio. Finally, he feels Step Up students should be required to take all of the same standardized tests as students in the public school system.
 
Next week’s program is Kirsten Taylor Domineck, “Out of the Mouth of Babes: How COVID-19 has Impacted Youth Motivation, Socialization, Education & Home.”