Tahoe Truckee school district seeks support for Obama’s Race to the Top grant | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee school district seeks support for Obama’s Race to the Top grant

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; In a bid to get federal stimulus funds, the school district is considering major reforms that will tie teacher pay to student progress.

At its Wednesday, Jan. 6, meeting, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Board of Trustees may decide if it wants to participate in Californiaand#8217;s bid for President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top stimulus grant.

The $4.3 billion dollar grant is within Obama’s $110 billion federal stimulus package for education.

Each year, four or six states are selected to receive a portion of it; California is applying to receive as much as $700 million, the highest amount awarded to states.

and#8220;The more districts sign on to participate in the reforms, the more likely the state will be chosen as one of the 30-plus states competing for the funding,and#8221; said TTUSD Superintendent Steven Jennings, who is recommending the board approve the district moving forward with funding requests.

Jennings said the funding is an important part to improving the districtand#8217;s current programs. –

According to the U.S. Department of Education website, the grant will focus around four specific areas:

and#8226; Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;

and#8226; Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;

and#8226; Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and

and#8226; Turning around the nationand#8217;s lowest-achieving schools.

The most controversial of these areas, Jennings said, could be teacher assessment and rewarding teachers financially based on effectiveness.

The California Teacherand#8217;s Association has already denounced the grant, writing on its website it will only and#8220;… create chaos in local school districts, drain resources from local classrooms, and punish lower-performing schools without providing them assistance.and#8221;

According to its website, one of the biggest concerns CTA has is the grantand#8217;s one-time conditions. If major reforms are made using the grant money, the association questions if they could be supported after funding runs out.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell joined Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at a news conference last November in support of the grant.

“Some have questioned whether it is worth the effort to build a reform plan just to win one-time federal funds,and#8221; Oand#8217;Connell said. and#8220;But the reform plan we are building based on those four reform areas is the right plan to improve public education in California, whether we win the Race to the Top or not.and#8221;

The deadline for state applications is Jan. 19 and grant awards will be announced this April.

The public portion of Wednesday’s meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center.