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House, Senate agree on PreK-12 budget

The House and the Senate have reached a tentative agreement on the roughly $12.8 billion budget for PreK-12 education.

The budget funds an extra hour of reading instruction and other supplemental academic services at the 100 lowest-performing elementary schools. Specialized schools won't have to participate -- and students who achieve at the highest levels on the FCATs can opt out.

The cost: $30 million.

(The Senate had initially called for extra reading programs at all D- and F-rated elementary schools. That would have cost $119 million.)  

Additionally, the two chambers agreed to increase the award money for high-performing and improving schools from $70 per child to $85 per child.

And they decided to fund public television to the tune of almost $4 million.

Education Budget Conference Chairwoman Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, said the spending plan "offers our students across the state an opportunity to receive a quality education."

Coley said she was pleased to reach a compromise in just two days.

"We may have made history," she jokingly said.

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