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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2001

Illinois Schools Get $34.5 Million Federal Reading Grant

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan announced today that 17 of Illinois' school districts with high numbers of children living in poverty have been awarded a total of $34.5 million in federal funds to help improve reading programs for their students.

The Reading Excellence Act (REA) grants, which are awarded on a competitive basis, will support a variety of local efforts to improve reading programs for children in kindergarten through third grade. The grants will be used to help improve how teachers teach reading, increase community and family support of reading, reduce class sizes, support early childhood programs, and purchase books and other instructional materials. Districts that applied and did not receive grants will get other financial assistance to support members of their K-3 instructional staff attending REA-sponsored professional development activities.

"All children in our state must read to succeed, because reading is the foundation upon which other learning is built," Governor Ryan said. "One of my top goals as governor is to help make sure that children in Illinois can read well before they finish third grade."

School districts will use the grants to meet four main goals outlined in the federal law:

  • All children must learn to read by the end of the third grade.
  • All children at risk of "reading failure" will receive individual instruction.
  • All children in early childhood centers will receive preparation and support for reading classes when they start school.
  • The families of children will have access to family literacy programs where children and parents work together.

More than 60 percent of students statewide have met the Illinois Learning Standards in reading over the last eight years, according to state test results. However, only 35 percent of the students in these REA-eligible districts have achieved state reading standards, said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee.

"This money will help close the achievement gap in our state because it supports programs for thousands of students who most need help in reading," McGee said. "These 17 districts are working hard to give their students, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, high-quality programs to help them be good readers. These additional grant funds will mean the districts can go the extra mile to help each child."

These grants will further support Governor Ryan's Illinois READS initiative that is working to coordinate state reading programs to build on reading services and partnerships already available through parent teacher associations, senior volunteers in schools, and other literacy programs.

The total federal grant to Illinois is $37.9 million. However, $1,469,119 will be allocated to support programs and staff development in districts that did not receive direct REA funding and $1,895,000 - or 5 percent of the total - must be set aside for administration of the grant.

The school districts receiving the bulk of the federal grant dollars are:

Chicago Public Schools$13,000,000
Rockford District 2054,265,120
Rock Island District 413,321,250
Elgin District 462,983,300
Springfield District 1862,746,106
Peoria District 1502,729,786
Kankakee District 1111,811,262
Quincy District 1721,348,216
Merdosia/Chambersberg District 11197,475
Ford Heights District 169 905,038
Pembroke Township District 259 310,808
SIDEZ Consortium* 917,475

*The SIDEZ Consortium includes the following schools located within the Southernmost Delta Empowerment Zone in Southern Illinois: Century Unit District 100, Cypress Elementary District 64, Meridian Unit District 101, Cairo Unit District 1 and Egyptian Unit District 5.


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