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April 29, 2002

Contact: Bill Edmonds
Florida Board of Education
(850) 201-7130

Gary and Steve Pajcic donate $1 million to help bring veteran teachers to challenged schools in Duval County

JACKSONVILLE — Secretary of Education Jim Horne on Monday praised Jacksonville attorneys Gary and Steve Pajcic for their contribution of $1 million to boost student achievement in Duval County's challenged public schools.

The $1 million will support Creating Opportunities that Result in Excellence, which encourages more experienced educators to work in Duval County’s lower-performing schools. Incentives include a $2,500 pay supplement for teachers and principals, based on student academic improvement.

"Gary and Steve Pajcic are continuing their long history of support of education in Duval County," Horne said, "and with this generous contribution they are helping an innovative project that will truly make a difference for students."

The program, estimated to require $750,000 the first year and $2.5 million over the next four years, will target five elementary schools initially. CORE will include more schools in following years.

This is the second significant donation to CORE this month. Earlier, Pat and Wayne Hogan contributed $250,000 to the program. Monday's announcement was made at Annie R. Morgan Elementary, where both Pajcic brothers and Secretary Horne attended school.

"I want to commend these Floridians who are giving so much back to our public schools," Horne said. "They set an example for us all."

The Secretary said he would help seek more private contributions to strengthen the program. "Duval County's CORE project has great potential in showing how incentives and accountability for educators can provide dramatic results in student learning," Horne said. "This could become a model for other school districts throughout Florida."

Gary and Steve Pajcic are long-time supporters of Duval County Public Schools. They began providing scholarships to Paxon High School students (now Paxon School for Advanced Studies) two decades ago and donated $1 million 10 years ago to establish a Pajcic Scholar program for Paxon students to attend the University of North Florida. More than 64 students have benefited from that program, including six now enrolled at UNF.

Last year, Steve Pajcic donated $250,000 to endow a scholarship for Paxon School students at Princeton University.

Steve Pajcic served in the Florida Legislature for 11 years and was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1986. A former circuit court division chief for the state attorney's office, Gary Pajcic received a special award from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for dedicated service and personal concern for the people and law enforcement of Jacksonville.

For information on making donations to support Duval County's CORE project, call Duval Teachers United President Terrie Brady at (904) 396-4063.