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PRESS RELEASE

December 11, 2003

Frances Marine
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Jim Horne's Statement regarding Chief Financial Officer's Reports on School Choice Programs
Department of Education reviewing the reports, many of the recommendations already under way

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner Jim Horne today made the following statement regarding two reports released by the Chief Financial Officer concerning Florida's scholarship programs:

"Florida's scholarship programs have provided opportunities for low-income and disabled students that were once beyond their reach. We agree that more accountability is vital. To that end, our Inspector General and Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice have worked to address problems and have cooperated with the Chief Financial Officer's review of the program.

"In fact, an internal review by our Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice over the past few months has resulted in the department already undertaking many of the recommendations provided in these reports. Governor Bush has asked us to review the reports in detail and give him a status on the recommendations, which we expect to complete by next week.

"Two months ago, we proposed legislation to address other reforms, some of which are also included in the reports. We appreciate the Chief Financial Officer's recognition of the need for more legislative authority to address scholarship program accountability and will be meeting with his staff to discuss some of the issues we have identified surrounding the recommendations."