Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush Plan for Schools Unveiled

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush Plan for Schools Unveiled

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Tackling what he calls his top priority, Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday released a wide-ranging education plan that would use tax dollars to send children to private schools and could help Duval County better train its teachers.

The plan, which focuses on holding schools and teachers more accountable for student performance, also calls for spending an additional $643 million next year on Florida's schools. The boost is actually a smaller increase than schools received for the past two years.

Bush said the plan would particularly try to help children who lag behind other students. He called it the most "sweeping and comprehensive" education plan ever offered in the state.

"We believe that all children can learn and that no child should be left behind in our education system," Bush said during a news conference.

The plan also could boost an effort by Jacksonville business and education leaders to build a $7 million teacher-training institute in Duval County. The effort, which would be funded through tax dollars and private contributions, kicked off this month when investor Frederick Schultz pledged $1 million.

Sen. Jim Horne, R-Orange Park, who is helping spearhead the effort, said Bush wants to spend $10 million on creating three institutes in the state. Bush has not singled out Duval County for one of the sites, but Horne said Jacksonville is ahead of the rest of the state on the idea.

Bush's education plan, which will go before the Legislature this spring, comes after a fall election campaign that focused heavily on improving Florida's schools. The plan calls, among other things, for grading the performances of schools, giving $15 million to schools that do well or show progress and spending an additional $20 million next year on improving school safety.

Donna Arduin, Bush's budget director, said the governor will release a budget next week that will show how the state would pay for the proposals. Under the plan, public schools would receive about $11.9 billion in 1999-2000, an increase of $643 million over this year.

That total does not include the amount of money that would go toward building schools. …

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