A group of area school administrators is coordinating their efforts in an attempt to meet the standards necessary to obtain a grant that could range anywhere from $4-million to $10-million. Atlantic School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein announced during Monday evening’s School Board meeting, that he’s been working with Superintendents at the Harlan, CAM, Exira-EHK and Griswold School Districts, to apply for a “Race to the Top” (R2T) grant, which had previously only been available to States.
He said the Dept. of Education has shifted the focus of the race to school districts or consortiums, instead of states. Amstein said the districts are applying for an R2T grant that focuses on Career Tech Education (CTE). He said the hope is that the districts can use the grant monies to build-in some programs not currently offered, and expand on those that are being offered. The districts would apply for a Tier 1 grant.
In order to qualify for a Tier 1 grant, the consortium of districts must have anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 students. Working with the other districts, Amstein says, will enable the group to meet the requirement. He says the Superintendents plan to meet by conference call and/or in-person this Friday afternoon, to file a “Letter of Intent,” to apply for the grant, which he says would be a “Great shot in the arm” for rural Iowa, if the grant is received.
He says they’ll be working hard over the next few months to prepare the grant for consideration. Amstein says he’s excited about the prospects of working with the other school administrators to obtain the funding and focus on CTE programs, which he says is in “Dire need of expansion.”
“Race to the Top” was created in 2009 and designed to spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K-12 education. It was funded by the Economic Development Recovery Act as part of the 2009 ARRA (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), or economic stimulus package. States were awarded points for satisfying certain educational policies, such as performance-based standards. In May 2012, the Department of Education proposed draft criteria for a district-level Race to the Top program.