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Story Archives: School board to consider grant program participation
|School board to consider grant program participation|
The latest draft of the Race to the Top federal grant program was recently presented to local educators and superintendents by representatives from the Louisiana Department of Education. The plan offers local school districts the opportunity to receive cash awards for participating in the Race to the Top (RT3) initiative in exchange for their commitment to school reform and academic improvement.
The RT3 initiative is spearheaded by the U.S. Dept. of Education and involves distribution of some $4 billion in federal stimulus money. According to the Louisiana Dept. of Ed., the state could receive up to $170 million if selected for the program.
If awarded, the state will then select which school districts qualify based on the guidelines outlined in the plan.
Supt. Lanny Johnson said Franklin Parish could receive as much as $300,000 to $500,000 per school in federal grant money over a four-year period.
"There is more flexibility with the latest plan, and more leniency in allocating the funds within the school system," Johnson said. "The grant monies can be spent for incentives, in-service training, signing bonuses or things like classroom resources."
In exchange for this cash award, the district must implement reforms in classroom instruction and teacher evaluations as well as turning around under-performing schools. Johnson said the new plan presents four different models in which the school system can volunteer to participate.
Currently, state regulations require 60 percent of students to score basic or above for the school to be deemed acceptable. The new plan could push that number as high as a 75 percent scoring basic. Johnson said he expected BESE to mandate a 10 percent increase in state performance levels.
The application requires interested school superintendents to submit a statement of intent to apply to the department of education by Dec. 18, 2009.
"We have a lot to discuss before the final decision," Johnson told the board during the December regular meeting. "We have to know all the different requirements before we give them a final decision on Jan. 11."
The board will discuss details of the RT3 initiative during their monthly agenda meeting scheduled for Jan. 5 at 5 p.m.