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Orange County Awarded $3 Million Reading Grant

Courtesy of Orange County Public Schools

Gov. Jeb Bush announces $3.1 million reading grant award as School Board Member Joie Cadle (far left), Orlo Vista Principal Pat Ramsey, and Superintendent Ron Blocker look on.

Orange County Public Schools has won the state's biggest share of a federal grant aimed at boosting student achievement in reading.

During a visit to Orlo Vista Elementary School, Governor Jeb Bush presented Superintendent Ronald Blocker, Principal Pat Ramsey and School Board Member Joie Cadle with a check for more than $3.1 million from the federally-funded Reading First grant program. Locally the money will fund a literacy coach for each of 26 high-needs elementary schools, additional training in reading instruction for kindergarten through third-grade teachers, books and other instructional materials.

"This is wonderful news," said Superintendent Ronald Blocker. "It will allow us to expand and strengthen our successful reading programs throughout the district."

Orange County received one of four Reading First grants totaling $8.5 million that were awarded through a competitive application process this year. The other grants went to Broward County Schools, Palm Beach County Schools and the Panhandle Area Education Consortium, which includes Franklin, Holmes, Jackson, Madison and Washington school districts.

"These school districts have set the standard for making reading a priority," said Education Commissioner Jim Horne. "They have worked very hard to meet the requirements of Reading First grants."

Bush also spent time in a classroom and read to a group of kindergarten students in the media center. He had high praise for the work of both the school and the district in boosting academic achievement.

"I'm really proud of what has been done here," said Bush. "I applaud the district for what it has accomplished and for being innovative. I know they'll use the money well."