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MV Whisman turns down Race to the Top funds

Original post made on May 25, 2010

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.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 25, 2010, 11:30 AM

Comments (17)

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Posted by Chicken .vs. Egg
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Officials for the Mountain View Whisman school district decided that they'd rather sit out the Race to the Top.

How does one expect the program to improve if you do not take part in the activity. The notion is try the best you can and report what did not work. This is what I learned in school, you try your best with what you have.

It is a balance effort in which one should seek the middle not the top or bottom, then report.

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Posted by Jesse DiLando
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm

This is typical of the MV School District. The state funding is never enough for them. They would rather come up with some school BOND measure to tax property owners in the district than be involved with any program that tries to show any slight measure of accountability.
This school district has its head in the sand, while everyone else is going thru an economic depression/crisis, they will for sure be asking for yet another bond measure rather than take part in program.

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Posted by Kevin
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Think about it people.

If the district were to spend MORE than $200,000 simply to get LESS than $200,000, then IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE to pursue these funds.

Thank goodness that our school board does not include the two prior posting folks on our school board. Kudos to our school board for having good sense here.

How about directing some of your disgust at the state DOE for releasing program requirements 4 DAYS before a decision is required?

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm

And, once again, no one understands that whatever money they would get from Race to the Top, or from the state or feds in any way, shape or form, cannot be used for buildings; that BOND measures are for BUILDINGS, and the ONLY way a school district can raise money to improve its facilities is by passing BONDS.

If you disagree with the decision on Race to the Top, comment on that specifically. If you disagree with the bond measure, comment on that specifically. But they are two completely distinct items, should be two completely different threads, and people continually conflate them into one issue to prove their claims of fiscal mismanagement.

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Posted by Opt Out
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm

MVWSD was supposed to get $200K of $7M for the whole state? That's 1/35 of the total for the state. It must be the case that almost all districts are opting out or else we'd normally get way less than 1/35.

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Posted by Chicken .vs. Egg
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Web Link
About the Race to the Top Fund
The Race to the Top Fund provides competitive grants to encourage and reward States that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; implementing ambitious plans in the four education reform areas described in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA); and achieving significant improvement in student outcomes, including making substantial gains in student achievement, closing achievement gaps, improving high school graduation rates, and ensuring that students are prepared for success in college and careers.

Category 1—$350-700 million California, Texas, New York, Florida
The budget request could have been 350 - 700 Million.
Thank you for help out MVWSD!

The California Score Sheet
Web Link

Description of Funding

The ARRA provides $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward States that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform and implementing ambitious plans in four core education reform areas:

Adopting internationally-benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace;
Recruiting, developing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers and principals;
Building data systems that measure student success and inform teachers and principals how they can improve their practices; and
Turning around our lowest-performing schools.

The reviewers comments on California, It is easy to see why MVWSD opted out. They do not want reform they want more funding for executive salaries.
Web Link

The state ranking
Web Link
California 27/50 did not make the final cut of the top 16 states.

Web Link
The U.S. Department of Education will have about $3.4 billion available for the second phase of the Race to the Top competition.

"We set a very high bar for the first phase," Duncan said. "With $3.4 billion still available, we're providing plenty of opportunity for all other states to develop plans and aggressively pursue reform."

Let wimp out, we do not have enough funds, Why anyone listens to the bean counter is beyond me.

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Posted by Robin
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 25, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Could the Voice or the district kindly provide details on what the required changes are and the costs associated with them?

I see no explanation of Craig's statement. What does this mean?

"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.

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Posted by John the Man
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Race for the Bottom funds come with a LOT of stipulations and requirements for documentation. The funds aren't just a blank check a district can spend as they want. It has to be spent on certain things and the expenditures documented closely. Also, a lot of the things you can spend it on, they have to have metrics and you have to show improvement. All that costs money just to set up and do the documentation tasks.

For $200k, I can totally see how the costs to implement the funds and do the required follow up paperwork would take up a lot of the money to begin with, if not more than the $200k itself.

Given how lame the district assistant superintendents and administrators are, I wouldn't trust them to balance a checkbook, much less do the Race for the Bottom documentation right. It wouldn't surprise me if Craig looked at the grant requirements, then looked at Stephanie Totter and Mary Lairon and said, uh... no.

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Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 25, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Race to the Top was never designed to fully fund reforms. It is meant to jump start reforms that Obama and the federal Department of Education deemed worthy regardless of the money. If something will dramatically improve student learning, it is worth the costs. Even in the red, budgets are still simply about priorities. Items with the most impact on learning should be kept first, and items with the least cut first. Whether what Washington wants is what we need warrants a debate. That is a debate beyond dollars and cents.

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Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 26, 2010 at 7:20 am

I fully support the decision of the MVWSD. If the program does not bring pork into the city it is not what MV is for.

I re-edumacated myself and now work nights in a hospital in San Mateo, thanks to myself.

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Posted by CC
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 26, 2010 at 10:00 am

200K for a school districe, that money can be easily spent on a few meetings to talk about the topic. To implement a prgram, the rest of the money will have to come from tax payer of the City of Mountain View. The school board is doing the right thing.

If we really want the school performance to go up, a more effective way is to get parents involved more with the school programs. For example, find a way to get parents off from the couch from watching TV to study with their kids. For those parents who don't have time for their kids, they can pay someone to fullfil the duties for them to be fare. For parents who could not afford time and money for their kids, they school should give them a period (like 6 month limit) to correct their situation.

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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 26, 2010 at 9:58 pm

This is quite sad. That money was meant to improve the educational experience of our children. Of course there were some strings. However as a taxpayer I think it is irresponsible to turn down cold, hard cash. Why didn't the district ask for parent volunteers to help w/the administrative process to make the program worthwhile?? Aren't there dozens of unemployed accountants, lawyers, and so on in town, many with kids presumably who attend our schools? How about the Board members themselves, the PTA parents, the teachers? NOONE was willing to spend a couple of hours, gratis, to improve the educational process and get a free $200 thousand?? They probably would have been GLAD to help, had they been asked, in order to obtain nearly a quarter of a million dollars in federal funds for our public schools. Too late, seems like not enough though went into this ill-informed decision!!

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Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 27, 2010 at 9:06 am

I think 'localmom' missed on this one (usually I agree). Even if applications were all done volunteer, the compliance documents would still have to be done as the program advanced. Volunteer labor could disappear. I'd like to see administrative % of budget decrease - I think that this might have increased it [moderate program - big red tape].

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Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm

I respectfully disagree with 'CC' in suggesting parents are lazy. I think it is more often the case that parents either don't have the time, not know they have the capacity, or haven't been asked to help their children. Look at Title 1 (at risk-low income) model school Yes Prep in Houston for example. Neighboring schools assume parents are the problem or can't be bothered. Rather, Yes Prep has created a successful approach to engage parents. A lot of what Yes Prep does is exactly what Race to the Top wants for all schools. For info on Yes Prep: Web Link

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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 27, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Thank you Steve N. for your comment!! I didn't know anyone was listening....and I would be glad to get some feedback from the district on exactly why it wouldn't be worth it financially. I do concede points when I have to! I want the district to win in the end! They are the ones who educate the kids, and I hope this won't stop MVWSD from being a viable candidate in the future for further funds. There is a second round of "Race to the Top", we can all stay tuned....

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Posted by Chicken .vs. Egg
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 28, 2010 at 9:02 am


I hate to break it to you.
Web Link
Applications for Phase 2 of Race to the Top are due on June 1, 2010. To help states as they prepare their proposals and to continue the nationwide dialogue on education reform, the Department of Education has made all Phase 1 applications, peer reviewers' comments, and scores available on its website; videos of states' presentations will be posted next week.

The Department is making one change to the rules for the Phase 2 competition. To fund as many strong applications as possible, the Department of Education is requiring states' budgets to be within the ranges that were suggested in the original notice. Details are available on the Department's Web site and will appear in the Federal Register later this week.

If "we" want a MVWSD to do something in the future it may take a bit more then getting feedback.

Have a great holiday.

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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Thank you, hope all the commentators have a restful Mem. Day...

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