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May 9, 2005

Jacob DiPietre
(850) 488-5394

Melanie Mowry Etters
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush Announces Reading First Grant Recipients
$65,013,785 to be given to districts for comprehensive reading programs

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner John Winn today announced the fourth round of Reading First grant recipients. Eighteen school districts were awarded $27,323,335 to hire reading coaches, provide professional development, perform assessments and improve classroom libraries for grades K-3 in schools with low-performing students. Continuation grants, for districts currently implementing Reading First, were released in the amount of $37,690,450.

"Through Reading First grants, we can provide our students with expertise and the support they need to become successful independent readers," Governor Bush said. "The response to Just Read, Florida! has been overwhelming and exciting. Reading is a priority in our state and with our efforts through the Just Read, Florida! initiative, we are seeing results."

This round of Reading First grants will serve approximately 6,000 teachers and impact approximately 104,000 students in 266 schools in 18 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.

"These school districts have set the standard for making reading a priority," Commissioner Winn said. "They have worked very hard to meet the requirements of Reading First grants so children in these counties can benefit from reading coaches and improved classroom libraries."

"This is great news. These incremental dollars will help us improve our reading programs," said Chairman of the Dade County School Board Frank Bolanos. "The assistance we have received through the Just Read, Florida! has helped us achieve great reading gains."

The following school districts were awarded Reading First grants in May 2005:

  • Alachua County School District — $623,041
  • Escambia County School District — $4,790,520
  • Broward County School District — $1,874,900
  • Hamilton County School District — $74,552
  • Heartland Consortium (Highlands, Okeechobee)- $422,200
  • Lake County School District — $644,342
  • Lee, Charlotte and Collier County School Districts — $1,530,400
  • Miami-Dade County School District — $11,603,480
  • North East Florida Education Consortium (Flagler) — $160,500
  • Orange County School District — $1,188,600
  • Palm Beach County School District — $3,185,400
  • Panhandle Area Education Consortium (Holmes, Jackson, Madison) — $180,400
  • Pinellas County School District — $1,045,000

The purpose of the Reading First grant is to assist Florida school districts and individual schools to implement proven methods of scientifically-based reading instruction in the classrooms in order to prevent reading difficulties in grades K-3. This competitive sub-grant process ensures Florida school districts meet the eligibility criteria prescribed by the Reading First federal legislation and Florida's state grant application.

Currently, 40 Florida school districts are implementing Reading First, representing 161,254 students, 10,114 teachers and 391 schools. Florida received $50 million in federal Reading First funds in 2004 and $53 million in 2005. For the 2005-06 school year, 657 schools in 44 districts will be implementing Reading First.

Officials from the Department of Education, the Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University and university professors reviewed the 23 applications for the Reading First grants. Each approved application passed rigorous criteria for receiving at least 80 percent of the possible points in 12 evaluation categories in addition, a dozen fixed requirements. The Reading First awards were also highly competitive against other districts.

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