I just got a consoling email from a parent who learned that California was not, after all, selected to receive a grant in the second round of Race to the Top (RTTT). This is disappointing, but applying felt a little bit like doing a deal with the devil so I’m not really all that upset that we didn’t qualify.
But it’s important to know the difference between RTTT, the Federal government’s competitive grants program, and the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program that the State Board of Education is expected to approve today.
Our eligibility for SIG is related to the state’s list of persistently underperforming schools. Districts with schools on the list were invited to apply for SIG funds, and required to choose one of four turnaround strategies for every school on the list. Some districts (LAUSD, OUSD) gambled and applied for money for only some of their schools; SFUSD chose to apply for all 10 and were rewarded with a recommendation that the state fund our application to the tune of $47 million. After some scrambling (and advocacy by other districts that were shut out), the state board cut our funding recommendation back to $45 million and applied for a Federal waiver that will let them fund other school districts that were originally shut out.
We’re okay with that, generally, and that money will make a huge difference at schools like John Muir Elementary, Carver Elementary, Everett Middle School, and Horace Mann Middle School. We should receive confirmation later today about the money.