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PRESS RELEASE

March 31, 2004

Frances Marine or
MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Horne Presents Check for Reading First to Palm Beach County Schools
$8.5 million awarded statewide to support comprehensive reading programs

LAKE WORTH — Education Commissioner Jim Horne today visited Indian Pines Elementary School in Palm Beach County in the third round of Reading First grant awards. Four grants are being awarded in 2004 for a total of $8.5 million to hire reading coaches, provide professional development, perform assessments and improve classroom libraries for grades K-3 in schools with low performing students.

"Our goal is to help struggling readers acquire the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond," Commissioner Horne said. "School districts have worked very hard to meet the requirements of Reading First grants so children can benefit from reading coaches and improved classroom libraries."

The following school districts were awarded a Reading First grant this year:

  • Broward County - $2,102,000
  • Orange County - $3,110,500
  • Palm Beach County - $2,661,900
  • Panhandle Area Education Consortium - $665,455 (Franklin, Holmes, Jackson, Madison, and Washington school districts)

This round of Reading First grants will serve 2,700 teachers and impact approximately 28,466 students in 72 schools in eight districts. The reading coaches provided through the grants will serve as a stable resource for professional development, progress monitoring, and student data analysis leading to improvements in reading instruction and achievement. The federal funding for these grants is available for five years, starting with the 2004-05 school year.

Reading First grants help districts and schools implement proven methods of scientifically-based reading instruction to prevent reading difficulties for students in grades K-3. The competitive sub-grant process ensures Florida school districts meet the eligibility criteria prescribed by Reading First federal legislation and Florida's state grant application.

Currently, 41 Florida school districts are implementing Reading First grants, representing 151,000 students, 7,100 teachers, and 400 schools. Florida received $45.6 million federal Reading First funds in 2002 and $50.3 million in 2003. This will total more than $300 million in six years toward reaching Governor Bush's goal of every child reading at or above grade level by 2012.

For more information, visit www.justreadflorida.com or www.myflorida.com.