MOUNT VERNON — A quartet of local school districts has chosen to participate in Ohio’s Race to the Top efforts. Danville, East Knox, Highland and Mount Vernon have stated their intent to compete for Race to the Top grants to support education reform and innovation in the classrooms.
The $4 billion program is largely funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In a speech at the U.S. Department of Edcuation, President Barack Obama said, “This competition will not be based on politics, ideology or the preference of a particular interest group. Instead, it will be based on a simple principle — whether a state is ready to do what works.”
The educational reforms target four areas: Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy; building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction; recruiting, developing, rewarding and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and turning around the lowest-performing schools.
Danville is one of the 481 public school districts in Ohio that signed a required Memorandum of Understanding to be a part of Race to the Top funding, for which the state applied.
“In the MOU,” said Danville Superintendent Dan Harper, “there were certain things that we have to agree to do to improve the way we provide services to our students. It is my understanding that the district will have a window of time to refuse the funds if we feel we cannot do all the things the state is asking us to do as part of the MOU. We did agreed to the things that were required, and left open things that were optional.”
If Ohio receives RTTT grant money, Harper said, Danville could get about 3 percent more in title funds.
Highland Local Schools could also receive more federal money if Ohio is successful in the grant competition. Tim Hilborn, superintendent of Highland schools, said that means Highland would get about 0.05 percent of whatever money the state receives from the federal government. The district will have to submit a formal plan aligned to the grant requirements within 90 days after Ohio is informed its grant application was approved.
Hilborn doesn’t anticipate that RTTT will force any curricular changes. He said Ohio is requiring new standards and the changes are based on Ohio HB 1.
Program information is from ED.gov and the Ohio Department of Education.