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Press Release

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Governor’s Press Office
(850) 488-5394

Governor Crist Applauds Success of Florida’s Schools
~ $122.5 million awarded to Florida schools for commitment to academic progress ~

TAMPA – Governor Charlie Crist today celebrated with teachers and students of Frost Elementary School in Tampa where he presented them a check for $56,222 for improving their school grade from a “C” to a “B” during the 2008-09 school year. Governor Crist also recognized the Florida Lottery’s latest achievement of surpassing $20 billion in contributions to Florida’s students and schools.

“This year has been a tremendous success for Florida’s public schools, with more schools than ever before achieving ‘A’ grades,” said Governor Crist. “Academic achievement is possible because students, teachers and parents across our state continue to show an unparalleled commitment to quality education.”

Since the Florida School Recognition Program began in 1999, Florida has awarded more than $1.25 billion in school recognition funds. The Florida School Recognition Program, which is funded by the Florida Lottery, rewards schools that have sustained high student performance or demonstrated substantial improvement. Frost Elementary is one of 2,103 Florida schools this year that will receive funds through the Florida School Recognition Program for sustaining high academic performance or improving performance. Schools that receive an “A,” improve their grade, or maintain improvements of two or more letter grades made over the last two years are eligible to earn an additional $75 per student. Alternative schools that receive a rating of “improving” or increase their rating level are also eligible for award money.

The program has been successful in helping schools maintain and improve their school grade. In 2009, 1,835 schools earned a grade of “A”; 256 schools with a grade lower than “A” improved or maintained their grade after having previously improved two or more grades; and 12 alternative schools received a school improvement rating of “improving” or moved up one level. Program funds are allocated based on a joint decision by the school’s staff and school advisory council. These funds can be used for non-recurring faculty bonuses, educational equipment, new technology or hiring temporary personnel to assist in maintaining and improving student performance.

For the past 21 years, Lottery has provided funding to all of Florida’s 67 school districts. The Lottery transferred a record $1.284 billion to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF) during fiscal year 2008-09, surpassing the prior year’s record by more than $1.35 million. Florida voters, by a two-to-one margin, approved a constitutional amendment in 1986 authorizing the state to operate a lottery for the purpose of generating significant additional moneys for education. Today, Floridians continue to show their support by purchasing nearly $4 billion in Lottery products per year, with profits from every purchase benefiting education in the state.

Earlier today, as part of his ongoing commitment to economic and workforce development, the Governor visited Tech Data in Clearwater. Tech Data is a FORTUNE 500 company that is one of the world’s largest distributors of technology products, serving information technology (IT) solution providers in over 100 countries. Florida’s IT sector has grown over the last two decades, with more than 24,000 companies based in state. IT companies employ nearly 254,000 Floridians, with average wages of $65,000. According to TechAmerica’s Cyberstates 2009 report, Florida is also ranked fourth in the nation in high-tech employment and third in high-tech exports. The Governor toured the facility with Jeff Howell, Tech Data executive vice president and chief financial officer, and participated in a quarterly meeting with the top 120 company management members.

Also today, Governor Crist visited the Pepin Heart Hospital in Tampa to congratulate the Pepin Heart Institute on its 20th anniversary of fighting heart disease. During his visit, Governor Crist thanked the Pepin team of physicians, nurses and technologists for their lifesaving efforts. He also test-drove the DaVinci Robot, a device that allows doctors to make smaller incisions, decrease pain and blood loss and improve recovery time following heart surgery. The DaVinci Robot makes University Community Health, the parent organization of Pepin Heart Hospital, among a select group of two percent of hospitals in the country performing robotic cardiac, urologic and gynecologic surgery.

To view the list of schools receiving recognition funds this year, visit http://www.fldoe.org/evaluation/schrmain.asp.