PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- Janie Cleveland says she will do whatever it takes to keep her 10-year-old daughter in private school if a judge's decision to throw out Florida's tuition voucher program stands.

"If it takes me to get a second job, I'll do that," said Cleveland, a University of West Florida cook whose daughter is getting A's and B's at Sacred Heart School. "She's not going back to one of those substandard schools."Circuit Judge L. Ralph Smith Jr. of Tallahassee ruled Tuesday that the nation's first statewide school voucher system violated Florida's Constitution, which bars public money from being spent on private education.

"Tax dollars may not be used to send the children of this state to private schools," Smith said. The students can finish the year, but the state cannot implement the program in any other way, the judge said.

Gov. Jeb Bush, who championed the program, promised to find the money to keep it going despite what happens in court. An appeal is certain.

"We'll raise the money," Bush said. "This is the first inning of a long, drawn-out legal battle."

And one likely to surface in the presidential race, with Bush's brother, Republican contender George W. Bush, in support of vouchers and Democrat Al Gore flatly opposed.

Under the program, students at schools rated as failing by the state can seek taxpayer-funded vouchers for private tuition. Voucher values vary based on how much a failing school spends per student but are generally worth $3,000 to $4,000.

Only two of Florida's 2,500 public schools -- both of them elementary schools in Pensacola -- qualified for the program this year. Five Catholic and one nonreligious private school accepted the 52 voucher students.

Ron Meyer, a lawyer for a coalition of voucher opponents that includes the state's teachers' union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Florida PTA and the League of Women Voters, claimed victory, "lock, stock and barrel."

Matthew Berry, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit Washington law firm that has defended vouchers around the country, said courts in other states have upheld vouchers.

Maine and Vermont have narrow programs to assist students in rural areas, while Milwaukee and Cleveland have citywide voucher plans.

A federal judge ruled in December that Cleveland's program violates the constitutional separation of church and state. It remains in place pending appeal.

In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider a challenge to Milwaukee's program, and in December the justices said Maine can subsidize rural children in private but not religious schools.

Mary E. Smith is using vouchers to send her niece and nephew to St. John the Evangelist School. Smith, who has custody of 11-year-old Angela Atwood and 7-year-old Antonio Held, called Tuesday's ruling unfair.

She said she has seen a major difference in the children since they started at the parochial school but she can't afford to keep them there without vouchers.

"They knew there was a chance that they might stop the program from the beginning," she said. "I'm just going to tell them like it is. I'll tell them we're going to pray about it and appeal."

Bank teller Dermita Merkman's daughter, Jessica, is attending kindergarten at Pensacola's St. Michael Interparochial School on a voucher.

"The discipline is good and she's learning about God. We're not Catholic, but we live in a Christian home," Merkman said. "If we're not able to use the voucher next year, I'll have to pull in all of my resources and one way or another she'll be able to stay."

Andrew Cameron also wants to keep his 10-year-old son, Ray, at St. Michael's, but he has two children in college and was laid off when Westinghouse closed its Pensacola plant. His new job pays about half as much.

"The school said they will cooperate with us, not to worry, that the children will be allowed to stay at St. Michael's," Cameron said. "It will be a chore."

On the Net: Citizens' Committee for Public Information:

Gov. Jeb Bush's web page:

Florida Education Association/National Education Association:

Institute for Justice:

ACLU of Florida:

Heritage Foundation: