Clark County School District falls short on Race to the Top grant

Despite overcoming the eleventh-hour drama with its teachers union over merely applying for a Race to the Top grant, the Clark County School District failed to make the list of 61 finalists for the $400 million federal program.

The Washoe County School District, Nevada’s second-largest school district behind Clark County, didn’t make the cut either for the four-year grants, which range from $5 million to $40 million each.

The Carson City School District is the only Silver State applicant still competing for the U.S. Department of Education money to be used to personalize students’ education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday that 15 to 25 winners will be announced before the end of the year out of 372 applications received in November.

"CCSD is disappointed to learn we are not among the finalists for the most recent Race to the Top competition," district spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said. "The funding would have gone into the classrooms of our most at-risk schools."

The $40 million sought by the district would have been spent on 41,000 students at 63 of Clark County’s poorer schools, giving them additional technology and literacy intervention programs. The district, the fifth-largest in the country with 311,000 students, would have hired 22 teachers and 24 support staff dedicated mostly to helping students struggling to learn English.

Fulkerson thanked Gov. Brian Sandoval for supporting Clark County’s grant application, which was almost blocked by strife between the district and its teachers union.

To apply for the Race to the Top grant, the district had to receive the support of the Clark County Education Association under the Obama administration’s requirements. That proved difficult.

The two parties have been quarreling for a year, with the union suspending all joint ventures with the district in March. The union also turned down a half-dozen of the district’s attempts from July through October to collaborate on the Race to the Top application.

The week of the application deadline, Sandoval offered to mediate the matter for the district and union, which ended with union officials letting the application proceed.

Fulkerson said it will be weeks before Clark County hears the department’s reasons for turning down its application.

Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.

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