Howard County Public Schools was not one of 61 school districts selected as finalists for a federal Race to the Top district grant that could have netted local schools up to $30 million in federal money.
The nearby school districts of Baltimore County and Baltimore City were both selected among the finalists, which were announced last week. But Howard County wasn't able to obtain the approval of the teacher's union for the grant application, which was one of the requirements.
"It is disappointing that we will not be able to accelerate our efforts to personalize learning for students in our highly impacted schools with the infusion of $30 million from the federal government," said Supt. Renee Foose. "I am delighted to hear that both Baltimore County and Baltimore City are among the finalists for this grant and wish them well."
Paul Lemle, the president of the Howard County Education Association, which represents teachers and school staff, said during the grant application process that HCEA wasn't given enough time to review the application. He also said the union isn't supportive of Race to the Top measures that tie teachers' pay with students' standardized test performance.
The grant is designed to help school districts implement personalized learning plans in order to close achievement gaps and increase educators' effectiveness, according to the U.S. Department of Education. In a press release, the Department of Education stated 15-25 winners will be selected from the 61 finalists for grants ranging from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the population of students in the district.
In Howard County's case, central school staff worked hard to finish the grant application within the 10-week window given by the government, according to Foose.
However, the application wasn't approved by the Howard County Board of Education until Oct. 30, which gave HCEA only two days to approve the final version of the application that was due on Nov. 1—something Lemle said the union couldn't do because HCEA bylaws require three-day notice to hold a board of directors and representative council meeting.
As a result, the school system submitted the application to the federal government on time, but without the required signature of the teacher's union.
For more information see - "$30 Million Grant Application Fails to Receive Union Signature"