Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rural school districts win Race to the Top money

More than 50 school districts, including 22 in a largely rural Kentucky group, will share $400 million in four-year "Race to the Top" grants from the U.S. Department of Education to "personalize and deepen" learning and improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness, the agency announced today.

"Few of the winners, however, serve mostly rural students, with the largest concentration in the Kentucky co-op," Michele McNeil of Education Week reports. This is the first Race to the Top money awarded to individual school districts or groups of districts applying as a consortium.

The exact grant amounts are still to be determined, but will range from $10 million to $40 million. The Green River Regional Educational Cooperative in Kentucky is expected to get about $40 million for 22 districts in the western half of the state, most of them rural. The application also includes the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, an agency created by several north-central districts.

Another grant of at least $20 million will go to the Idea Public Schools, a charter-school system in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. (Two urban charter schools also won grants.) Other rural or semi-rural grantees include the Iredell (County)-Statesville Schools in North Carolina and the Lindsay Unified School District, in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Tulare, Calif.

Race to the Top was launched in 2009 as the Obama administration's primary education-reform effort. “Race to the Top sparked as much reform in some states that didn’t receive funds as in those that did – a trend we want to see continued with the Race to the Top-District competition, where the number of strong district applicants was greater than the funding we had available,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “We want districts to keep moving on these blueprints for reform to transform the learning environment and ultimately prepare every student for college and their career.”

For more information, including a list of winners, budget ranges and additional materials, to to this web page: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district/index.html.

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