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Governor's Press Release

May 29, 2003

Contact: Alia Faraj
(850) 488-5394

Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne Announce Additional Funding for Education
Just Read Florida! funding up 127 percent

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne today announced that the budget passed by the Florida Legislature last night includes an increase of $1.3 billion over last year in funding for education. Education funding makes up 32 percent of the total 2003-04 budget, compared to 31 percent of this year’s budget.

“I applaud lawmakers for continuing to make education a priority in Florida,” said Governor Bush. “The funding approved by the Legislature will allow schools to reach every struggling reader, recruit and retain the best teachers, and ensure that all of Florida’s children have the opportunity to receive a world-class education.”

The budget contains $119.6 million for reading initiatives, including $25 million for summer reading programs and other remediation activities for struggling readers. The summer reading funds provided by the Legislature are for the 2003-2004 school year to support and assist students who have not yet mastered the necessary skills for promotion or graduation. The Florida Department of Education is assisting schools with summer reading activities implementation through curriculum development, activity design, mentoring, community agency partnerships and parent workshops.

“I expect those districts that have been unable to fully implement a summer reading program will now have the resources to extend the length of their summer reading activities,” said Commissioner Horne. “I cannot imagine any greater investment than helping a child acquire the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in life.”

The Legislature increased funding for public schools by $837.4 million, a 6.35 percent increase which exceeds the statewide student enrollment growth of 1.7 percent and translates to an average per student increase of $241. This includes full funding of school recognition funds and assistance to low performing schools.

The Legislature also appropriated $468.2 million for class size reduction operating funds and $600 million in lottery bonds for facilities funds aimed at reducing class size. In addition, the budget includes $276.8 million for teacher initiatives, such as the Excellent Teaching Program, Teacher Lead Program, and teacher training.

The Legislature also increased funding for higher education in Florida. Community colleges will receive $1.42 billion, a 3.9 percent increase, including $24 million in challenge grants. Since 1998-99, total funding for community colleges in Florida has risen by more than 31 percent. Total funding for state universities, will be $2.6 billion – a 3.7 percent increase over last year, including $40 million in challenge grants. In addition, Bright Futures scholarships were fully funded at $235.7 million.

For more information about the Governor’s Just Read Florida! initiative" log onto www.myflorida.com.