Mountain View Voice

News - May 28, 2010

MV Whisman turns down Race to the Top funds

Federal reform program would cost too much, officials say

by Martin Sanchez

Officials for the Mountain View Whisman school district decided that they'd rather sit out the Race to the Top. On May 20, the school board decided to not participate in California's Race to the Top, the state-run extension of a federal education reform program that would have netted the district an estimated $200,000.

Race to the Top is a U.S. Department of Education program that funds state efforts to reform educational standards, improve teacher training and retention programs, and create strategies for tracking student achievement.

The district worried that the funds it would receive — its own estimates place the amount at roughly $200,000 of California's $7 million in available funding — would not cover the cost of the program's required changes, said Craig Goldman, the district's chief financial officer.

"Given the dire financial times, we didn't want to move forward on a project that would cost us more money to implement than we would receive," Goldman said.

This is the second time that California has taken part in a Race to the Top program. Unlike this year's program, that first phase allowed school districts to opt out after signing up.

This increased obligation also figured into the district's decision to not sign up, Goldman said. The administrative decision was announced at the May 20 school board meeting.

At the meeting, some school board members expressed dissatisfaction about not being given copies of the program outline document before a decision was required. The California Department of Education released the program requirements on May 17 and districts had until May 21 to sign up.

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