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Renton School District To Share $40 Million "Race To The Top" Grant

A grant application written jointly by seven King County school districts has won $40 million in federal Race to the Top funds, the U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday.

The Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Seattle and Tukwila school districts competed together this fall as “TheRoad Map District Consortium,” a reference to their participation in the Road Map Project. The Road Map Project is a collaborative effort to dramatically improve education in South Seattle and South King County.

The King County districts’ application was among 16 winners selected out of 372 applications. Awards ranged from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the number of students served by the plan.  The Road Map District Consortium was one of only two applicants to win the maximum award of $40 million.

“This is a major victory for students and families in South King County,” said Senator Patty Murray. “When we level the playing field by providing increased access and opportunity for our students, everyone wins. I congratulate the Road MapDistrict Consortium for their outstanding leadership and collaboration in this endeavor. This victory will have a long-lasting impact on our community, and our state, as we all work together to build a brighter future for our students.”

The Puget Sound Educational Service District will serve as the lead agency responsible for overall project management and function as the fiscal agent.

“This amazing accomplishment proves that great things can happen when we work together. Thank you to all our partner organizations, districts, unions, community agencies, cities and housing authorities. The effort and commitment behind this plan is unprecedented – it’s a level of collaboration that should be celebrated and replicated,” said John Welch, Superintendent of the Puget Sound Educational Service District. “The region’s plan is designed to have big impact where it’s needed most. We are excited to roll out strategies that will help all students experience success. ”

The winning plan covers 261 schools and 150,000 students, including 36,000 high-need children. The districts will use the four-year Race to the Top grant to implement plans to help students “Start Strong,” be “STEM Strong” and “Stay Strong”:

Start Strong – We know that early learning is critical

  • Provide funds to help districts work with preschools and early learning programs to help kids be ready to be successful in kindergarten
  • Improve math, science and English Language Learner (ELL) teaching and leadership approaches so all students receive high-quality instruction

STEM Strong – We live in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-intensive region

  • Provide a computer-based math instructional program for all high-need K-8th grade students that they can use in school and at home
  • Help students explore STEM careers via online tools, speakers, mentors and internships
  • Be a leader in implementing Next Generation Science Standards

Stay Strong – These strategies will help more students be successful in postsecondary education

  • Offer all students the opportunity to take the SAT and PSAT in school for free
  • Offer training for middle and high school guidance counselors and provide counselor assistants to better serve more students
  • Offer districts the opportunity to the Advanced Placement (AP) course selections for students and help more teachers to get AP course training. Also, provide the opportunity to include more STEM, International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, world language and career certificate options

The grant also meets minimum federal requirements:

  • Strong focus on personalizing education
  • Stronger teacher, principal and superintendent evaluations by 2014
  • Implementation of Common Core State Standards complete by the 2014-15 school year
  • Transparent reporting of data and school-level expenditures

Additionally, the consortium’s commitments go beyond the minimum federal requirements:

  • Provide all high-need elementary students with a summer reading plan
  • Double the number of students taking algebra or higher by the end of eighth grade
  • Help all eighth-grade students complete a personalized plan to be college- and career-ready

This is the first time the federal Race to the Top competition has been open to districts and district consortiums. Previously, the grants had only been offered to states.

To read the region’s Race to the Top application, click here. To view a full list of Race to the Top finalists, please click here.

 

*Editor's Note: Information provided by The Puget Sound Educational Service District.

Pat C. December 11, 2012 at 11:41 PM
We the people will never get an accounting of how this money will be used and when it will be used. It is in all likelihood earmarked for teacher's salaries. The feds need to stop this waste in granting and allow the taxpayers to decide how to spend their money for education, like through Bond referendums. We the people can decide at the local level how to spend our taxes for education. Also, if this were going to be a serious grant, each school would have competed against each other and a real winner would be declared in one school. This money will be so diluted once it gets to the budgets, it will be like a 10 percent coupon off of the real costs of what it was intended for. Common people, you are being duped! Stop the irrational spending at the federal level, and ask your municipal government (you) to work issues on education, less we all end up in the poor house. Don't think this is really any GOOD news, just more evidence of out of control Federal Government spending that wastes federal tax dollars and decides for you how those dollars will be spent. If you like the government making decisions for you, than you are in the right place.
Renate Beedon December 12, 2012 at 04:03 AM
That is wonderful news - congratulations to all who have contributed to this .
Pat C. December 12, 2012 at 05:59 AM
...additionally, the government is borrowing 46 cents for every dollar it spends. This grant is a federal expenditure and 46 percent of it contributes to our 3.8 Trillion Dollar debt. Spend, spend spend...common; we can demand better. Schools can be allocated funds on OUR terms, not the Feds. Don't get me wrong, money for schools is good, but not this way.

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