Nine area school districts won't 'Race to the Top'
A majority of Alle-Kiski Valley area school districts will not be part of the state's effort to get a share of federal stimulus funds.
Nine area districts will not be included in the state's application for federal money from the "Race to the Top" competition.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, Race to the Top is designed to encourage and reward states that are creating conditions for education innovation and reform and achieving significant improvement in student outcomes.
States also are to receive money that are implementing ambitious plans in four core education reform areas: tough academic standards, recruiting and keeping effective teachers, tracking student performance with refined data collection methods and turning around the lowest performing schools.
But a lack of time to review the program, concerns about loss of local control and that districts are already doing parts of the program were among the reasons some local districts cited for not applying for a share of the money.
"They didn't give us enough time," said Apollo-Ridge board President Greg Primm. "People are generally suspicious of the government in the first place and that doesn't help when they try to do something so quickly — especially something of this magnitude."
Most of the goals of Race to the Top are part of the Fox Chapel Area School District's strategic and continuous improvement plans, spokeswoman Bonnie Berzonski said.
"We believe it is in the best interest of the district to continue to focus on the process we already have in place," she said in a statement. "We also do not believe that the amount of money Fox Chapel Area would be eligible to receive would be sufficient to allow us to expand what we are currently doing without adding significant dollars from the district budget."
Among the six districts that did sign on, officials touted the benefits of receiving funding to improve student achievement and meet state and federal goals, and linking the training and evaluation of teachers to how students perform.
"The bottom line to me and us is, it's an effort by the federal government to encourage schools to improve academic achievement and give schools money to accomplish that," said New Kensington-Arnold Superintendent George Batterson. "It comes with stipulations. You have to do things. It's actually good stuff."
In choosing to participate, the Armstrong School District had in mind the student achievement goals all districts will be required to meet by 2014 under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
"The district sees Race to the Top as an opportunity to make good use of resources from the state and federal government to support our ongoing reform efforts," spokesman Jon Szish said. "Whether or not districts apply for the money, they're still going to be held accountable for the results in 2014. It makes sense to apply for the funds."
Pennsylvania could receive up to $400 million in the program's first round of funding. A total of $4.35 billion is available nationwide, part of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus package.
School districts were required to submit by Wednesday a memorandum of understanding to the state Department of Education. The document was to have been signed by the district superintendent, school board president and teachers union president.
The Plum School District turned in an application missing the signature of the union president, according to district spokeswoman Dawn Lynn Check.
South Butler County Superintendent Frank Prazenica said he signed and submitted an application for his district, but was told it would not be eligible because it was not signed by the board president or teachers union president.
Memorandums missing any of the three signatures will not be considered valid and will not be part of the state's application to the federal government, said state Education Department spokesman Michael Race.
State applications are due to the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday.
Half of the money received will be used at the state level, while the other half will go to the participating districts.
If it receives funding, Pennsylvania has several programs that will benefit all 500 districts.
"Things will be available to all students, regardless of whether your school has signed up or not," Race said. "These are all projects we've identified as being beneficial to student achievement."
Deer Lakes Superintendent Dean Casello, whose district is not participating, said it may reconsider the program in the second round, which he said would be free of the concern of not having enough time to review it.
"Hopefully we'll have an opportunity to look at that more in detail and understand and learn the details of the expectations that come with the grant so we can make a better decision," he said.Additional Information:
Race to the Top
School districts had to submit a memorandum of understanding to the state by Wednesday to participate in the federally funded 'Race to the Top' grant program.
Alle-Kiski Valley districts that will be participating:
• Allegheny Valley
• Kiski Area
• New Kensington-Arnold
Districts not participating:
• Deer Lakes
• Fox Chapel Area
• Franklin Regional
• Freeport Area
• Leechburg Area
• South Butler County
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger remains in concussion protocol
- Pitt’s Whitehead, Ollison grab ACC rookie of the year awards
- Shell closing Franklin Park office next year
- Downtown barbershop target of racial-slur graffiti
- Former Connellsville police officer wants sex-trade case dismissed
- Authorities recover rifle used to kill Westmoreland police officer
- Kane turns to former Maryland attorney general to lead porn email probe
- Chicago mayor fires police chief in wake of video release
- Steps to reduce Sharpsburg blight start
- Police arrest two men accused in videotaped beating near Sharpsburg bar
- Irwin Park ball field improvements could move forward