Blog: The Educated Reporter

Hurricane Sandy: Feds Extend Deadline for Race To The Top

Local school districts will get more time to complete applications for a share of $400 million in federal Race To The Top grant dollars, the U.S. Department of Education has announced.

The deadline was supposed to be Tuesday but Hurricane Sandy shut down districts across the Eastern Seaboard. The federal government was also closed for two days with the exception of some essential offices. The new deadline has not been finalized although Politics K-12 reports that the money will still be awarded as planned in December.

This is the first time Race To The Top applications have been solicited below the state education department level. In August, Lucy Gettman — director of federal programs for the National School Board Association — told me that the level of enthusiasm for the district-level Race To The Top grants was “all over the map. She added that:

“We’ve heard from school districts saying they have just the population this grant program is designed to assist, the grant is consistent with the kind of work they are doing with high-need students, and they have a vision for how to put the grant to work. We’ve talked to other districts that don’t believe the time required to complete the application—knowing how few of these awards there will actually be—is worth the investment. “

As I mentioned in a prior blog post, the size requirement means that about half of the nation’s school districts are ineligible to apply on their own. I’m interested to see which smaller districts have successfully teamed up on their applications (one of the available options for districts with fewer than 2,000 students). While I’m all for teamwork and synergy, there are definite concerns among education observers that the rules will limit opportunities for individual districts.

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