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State announces Race to the Top funds

TRI-COUNTY AREA—Area school districts learned last week how much they are likely to get through the federal Race to the Top Program.
Penn Yan Superintendent Ann Orman said the district will get an anticipated $280,239. After participating in a webinar Friday, Oct. 8, organized by the state education department, she said there hasn’t been a lot of guidance concerning the funds and its implementation.
The funds are to be used for assessment of teachers and principals. Orman said 75 percent of the money has to go towards network teams. She explained this may be through BOCES, as teams will be focused on curriculum, instruction, and data. Orman added Penn Yan already has instructional council the district has made use of for at least the last six years.
Another requirement for schools is to submit a plan about how funds will be used, before districts get the money. Orman called it “a fairly aggressive timeline.”
She explained by Oct. 18, districts must submit their intent to submit a plan. That plan, a total scope of the district’s work, is then due by Nov. 8.
Dundee is getting $134,000. Superintendent Kathy Ring also said, “there’s a lot to be done in a short amount of time.” She added the guidelines looked strict.
She said superintendents are collectively looking at ways to meet requirements, since all are required to do them. Ring pointed to the network teams as an area districts could cross over on.
“It’s an exciting opportunity,” she said. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”
However, for Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips, the regulations are a problem.
“We need to change the way public education functions. We have to,” said Phillips. He added, “I truly believe that we (public education) must take advantage of (the funds), but so far it’s a bureaucratic nightmare.”
Watkins Glen was awarded $56,015. He explained Watkins isn’t sure what regulations need to happen within the district, or regionally. Phillips added districts need to work with principal’s and teacher’s associations and implement the evaluations.



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