01/13/10 — District seeking $3.2 million in stimulus funding

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District seeking $3.2 million in stimulus funding

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 13, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County Public Schools hopes to qualify for federal stimulus money, if pending grant funding is awarded to the state of North Carolina.

The Board of Education voted to sign a memorandum of understanding Monday night, applying for some of the anticipated pot of money.

"One hundred fifteen school systems were asked to send in this memorandum of understanding to say we will help with the grant if we are funded," said Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction. "North Carolina is in the process of writing the grant."

"Race to the Top" is a $4 billion fund created under 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, providing stimulus money to states to implement system-changing reforms toward narrowing achievement gaps and improving graduation and college enrollment rates.

The U.S. Department of Education has not determined how many states will be awarded a share of the competitive national grant.

But there has been speculation on the potential funding opportunity, if North Carolina is among the recipients.

"Our portion could be $3.2 million for a four-year period, if all systems chose to apply," said Dr. McCullen. "If all don't apply, we might have more money for us."

In turn, the district would be asked to participate in several reform plans -- including data management, principal and teacher effectiveness efforts, measuring student growth and turning around the lowest achieving schools.

The board approved the district's participation in the application process, and schools superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said he is confident of the prospects.

"Certainly, we hope that North Carolina will qualify for this funding and that we will get our share," he said. "I don't think we'll have any problem qualifying (and we're) hoping to put some new programs in place."

If the state is awarded a Race to the Top grant, participating districts will have up to 90 days to complete a detailed work plan, including goals, activities and budgets for performance measures.