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School Board Learns About Race To The Top Federal Grant

By Staff | Jan 28, 2010

A federal grant competition, proposed by the Obama administration, was among the items discussed during the Jan. 18, meeting of the Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education.

“Race To The Top has been in the news for about ten days, and it has been hectic trying to get schools on board and legislation passed,” said Superintendent John Joynt. “We could receive around $60,000 or more for four years in a row at the upper end, with a minimum of $20,000.”

Joynt explained that Race To The Top is a Department of Education grant application for federal funding to increase achievement scores. It is a competitive grant that is open to all of the states.

“They expect that maybe ten states will receive the funding,” said Joynt. “It could be up to $175 million to the state of Iowa. Half would go to the Department of Ed, probably for Iowa Core Curriculum development. The rest would go to Iowa school districts.”

He noted that the grant has been controversial because of merit pay for teachers, charter schools, very fast timelines for application, and other contractual issues.

“I have met with the teachers’ association president and she has signed on, and after a discussion with the principals and our board president, we have decided to proceed with our involvement in the grant,” said Joynt.

In other business, Joynt noted that following the recent two and a half day visit by the Department of Education, several comments were addressed during the exit interview.

“I don’t have anything official yet from the Department of Ed, but during the exit interview they were very complimentary of all of our programs and were excited to be here,” Joynt said.

Joynt noted that he believed the DE representatives may have concerns about the number of social studies courses offered by the district, the possible addition of a TAG (Talented and Gifted) activities at the elementary level, and an articulation agreement for vocational programs with Iowa Lakes Community College.

“Out of the hundreds and hundreds things they look at, very few came up as an area they asked about,” Joynt said, adding that once a final report was received, it would be shared with the board.

“Thank you to the administration for all their help,” said Board President Karla Anderson. “I know that they said they were treated so well. The students and staff were extremely respectful.”

In addition, board members considered half a dozen early retirement applications effective at the end of the 2009-2010 school year.

“We had six letters–Sue Brown, Karen Porath, Sharon Hobart, Cynthia Berkland, Sandy Leonard, and Linda Jones, “ said Joynt. “That’s an enormous amount of experience leaving the system.”

The board accepted the early retirement applications and thanked the early retirees for the many years of service to the district.