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Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Local school districts win some Race to Top funds

By Margie Wuebker
Some area school districts will get a chunk of the $4.3 billion in federal Race to the Top funds, according to a U.S. Department of Education announcement on Tuesday.
Celina City Schools is set to receive $203,907.74, while $100,000 will go to each Coldwater, Marion Local, Fort Recovery, New Bremen and New Knoxville schools. Additionally, the Auglaize County Virtual Education Academy will receive $25,000. The money will be delivered over the next four years.
The schools are among 47 percent of the state's 613 school districts that submitted applications for round two of Race to the Top, part of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan. The initiative was put in place to reward states for taking up ambitious changes to improve schools. Ohio received $400 million.
School districts had to apply for the money and provide signatures from the superintendent, school board president and teachers' union president. But in many cases, union leaders refused. A major concern among teachers involved evaluations based, in part, by student performance.
Celina City Schools Superintendent Matt Miller said the district already has many Race to the Top programs in place, such as enhanced standards and high quality assessments.
"The best thing is classroom teachers will have access to information about student performance," Miller added. "They can tailor the information to meet the needs and learning styles of students."
Money also would be earmarked to support professional development for teachers and principals.
As for the influx of dollars, Miller said he knows the state often gives with one hand and takes with the other. Educators see signs on the horizon of reduced state funding in the next biennial budget.
"Basically we are awaiting additional information in the wake of yesterday's announcement," Marion Local treasurer Paul Gagel said. "We are guaranteed at least $100,000, which is the amount listed on our application."
Gagel said all parties, including the administration, school board and the teaching staff, agreed at the onset to sit down and discuss how the money would be used. No date for such a discussion has been set.
In addition to Ohio, other winning states included New York, Hawaii, Florida, Rhode Island, District of Columbia, Maryland, Georgia and North Carolina. Delaware and Tennessee were awarded funding earlier this year in round one of the competition.

Local 'Race' money:
School  Funding
Celina  $203,907
Coldwater  $100,000
Marion Local  $100,000
Fort Recovery  $100,000
Auglaize County
Virt. Ed. Academy  $25,000
New Bremen  $100,000
New Knoxville  $100,000
Additional online story on this date
CELINA - The new health care reform bill could cost Mercer County an additional $100,000 next year - an expense that likely will trickle down to insured county workers. [More]
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