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August 30, 2001

Governor Announces Release of Over $7 Million in Illinois FIRST School Construction Grants

MARION -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced more than $7 million in Illinois FIRST School Construction grants for Marion Community Unit School District 2 and Carbondale's Unity Point Consolidated School District 140, marking the state's continued dedication to provide modern and improved learning facilities for Illinois school children.

"Education has been the cornerstone of my administration. By working together in bipartisan cooperation with the General Assembly, we kept my commitment to devote 51 percent of all new state revenues for education," said Governor Ryan. "That's the strongest commitment to public education in the history of this great state."

The school construction grant program, funded through Governor Ryan's Illinois FIRST program, helps local school districts relieve overcrowded classrooms and replace old and deteriorating facilities. To date, more than $2.1 billion in state funds have been awarded to school districts throughout Illinois.

The $2.2 million Illinois FIRST grant to Marion Community Unit School District 2 will help fund construction additions at three schools in the district. The local community is contributing $2.39 million. Additions at Longfellow Elementary will allow the district to start a full-day pre-school program. Marion Junior High School will build additions for about 170 students and the additions at Marion High School will allow for more classroom space for increased enrollment.

In Carbondale's Unity Point Consolidated School District 140, the nearly $5 million Illinois FIRST grant will help fund additions to serve 400 students. Construction of 12 additional classrooms will help alleviate overcrowding and reduce the number of students in each classroom in the district. The grant will also allow for construction of a new gymnasium, a new sanitary storm system, and a safer bus entrance and driveway.

"My administration will continue to work with local communities to make the improvements that are needed to help our children," added Governor Ryan. "Parents everywhere have the same concerns for their kids. They want them to have an opportunity at a quality education. They want them to be safe and grow up to have happy productive lives. That's my goal too."


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