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CCSD unsuccessful in bid for $40 million in Race to the Top funds

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Updated: 11/27/2012 11:13 am
LAS VEGAS (Las Vegas Sun) -- LAS VEGAS (Las Vegas Sun) -- The Clark County School District was unsuccessful in its bid for $40 million in Race to the Top federal funds, the U.S. Education Department announced Monday.

The School District was among 372 applicants — representing more than 900 school districts across the country — vying for a piece of $400 million in federal grant money as part of the inaugural Race to the Top grant competition for local school districts.

"CCSD is disappointed to learn we are not among the finalists for the most recent Race to the Top competition," Amanda Fulkerson, a district spokeswoman, said in a statement. "The funding would have gone into the classrooms of our most at-risk schools. Despite this news, the district is committed to continuing our progress in academic achievement utilizing the resources we are allotted."

The federal government named just 61 finalists, or just 16 percent of the total applicant pool. Because smaller school districts could pool their applications, these 61 finalists represent more than 200 school districts across the country.

Four school districts in Nevada — Carson, Clark, Lyon and Washoe counties — had applied for Race to the Top funding. Only Carson City was named a finalist still in the running for $10 to $20 million in grant money.

This continues Clark County's unsuccessful run with Race to the Top competitions. In 2009, the School District, which has an annual budget of about $2 billion, applied and failed in a statewide bid for a piece of $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funding for states.

It is unknown yet why Clark County's second Race to the Top application failed. Those details are expected to be released in the coming weeks, Fulkerson said.

Three-person panels evaluated and independently scored each application. Those individual judges’ scores then were averaged into an overall score for the applicant.

The U.S. Education Department then ranked the applications from highest-scoring to lowest-scoring. The top 61 applications were selected as finalists.

The department is expected to select between 15 and 25 winning applications from the 61 finalists next month. Winning school districts will receive between $5 million and $40 million in grant awards, depending on the number of students served by the district.

The Clark County School District's Race to the Top bid nearly fell apart last month after the local teachers union declined to support the district's application. A signature from the teachers union was a requirement for the competitive grant program.

However, Gov. Brian Sandoval intervened in the last minutes before the Nov. 2 deadline and mediated a compromise between the district and the union. It is unknown if vacillating union support for the application was a factor in Clark County's unsuccessful bid, Fulkerson said.

"While additional funding would have been welcome, we are committed to our students and employees and are proud of the hard work by our team who prepared the application and our community, especially Gov. Sandoval, who stepped up to support it," Fulkerson said in a statement. "This process gave us a welcome opportunity to partner with our teacher's association leaders that we hope will continue into a long-term partnership to make real improvements for our students."

-- Paul Takahashi | Las Veggs Sun
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