This from Brad Hughes at KSBA:
Kentucky’s academically lowest-performing schools are about to be eligible for new federal funds to help dramatically improve teaching and learning. But before those federal funds – $50,000 to $500,000 this fiscal year – flow to those schools, they must meet “very prescriptive” requirements, according to state officials.
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday revealed that Kentucky is eligible for $45 million in Title I funds this year — and lesser amounts over the next two years — during Thursday’s first meeting of the Department of Education’s Race to the Top (RTTT) Advisory Council. That panel of 14 from KSBA, KASS, KASA, KEA, KASC, the Prichard Committee and other groups will spend the next 14 weeks working with KDE staff and a California consultant to craft Kentucky’s application for a portion of $4.3 billion in RTTT stimulus funds.
“The $45 million in school improvement grants are for those schools in the lowest 5 percent in the state,” Holliday said...
Rules being set by the U.S. Department of Education will be very specific as to which schools may receive the funds and how those dollars may be used. “We’re not going to have a lot of leeway as to who we can support with this money,” [David Cook, KDE’s RTTT project manager] said. “It’s going to be the schools most in need.”
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday school districts that win the funding through applications must adopt one of four improvement models:
- Replacing the principal and most of the current staff,
- closing the school and sending students to a higher-achieving school,
- turning the school over for operation by a charter school or an “education
management organization, or
- “transforming” the school through a set of 11 strategies that schools would have to implement.
...During a detailed briefing about the RTTE application process, Holliday and Cook downplayed the much discussed question of whether Kentucky’s lack of charter schools will work against the state in seeking a share of the multi-billion dollar funding.
“Secretary Duncan and President Obama are not interested in ‘more’ charter schools. They’re interested in charter schools that are about providing services to children who may not be getting those services in their current situation,” Cook said...
Panel co-chair and state Education Secretary Helen Mountjoy gave the K-12 and higher education representatives a straightforward message – there’s a lot to do in order to meet the deadline of having an application for the federal stimulus money ready for Gov. Steve Beshear’s signature by mid-December.
“It’s time for us to look at what the next 20 years will bring, at what the next generation of schools will look like,” Mountjoy said. “Although there is the lure of money out there, this is the work that we need to be doing in Kentucky regardless of a federal impetus.