TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

September 13, 2013

Whitley BOE applies for ‘Race To The Top’ grant


The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

The Whitley County Board of Education wants to get into the race.

And on Thursday during the board’s regular monthly meeting, members again voted to do just that.

Deputy Superintendent Paula Trickett explained that the school system applied for a federal “Race To The Top” grant last year, but was turned down.

That led to a regrouping, which turned into the newly-formed Southeast Kentucky Race To The Top Consortium, which Trickett explained comprises nine regional school systems.

Those school systems are Whitley County Schools, Corbin Independent, which Trickett said “was taking the lead” in this new effort, McCreary County, Williamsburg Independent School, Knox County Schools, Barbourville Independent School, Pineville Independent School, Bell County Schools and Clay County Schools.

And what does this new consortium have in mind for its goal?

According to Trickett, the group will again try to go for the federal grant dollars — $30 million to be exact.

“This would be split between the nine districts,” she said, adding that since Whitley County Schools was the largest of the group, they would receive the largest chunk of the funds.

According to an executive summary from the U.S. Department of Education, Race To The Top is “a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; achieving significant improvement in student outcomes, including making substantial gains in student achievement, closing achievement gaps, improving high school graduation rates, and ensuring student preparation for success in college and careers; and implementing ambitious plans in four core education reform areas.”

Those areas are:

—  Adopting standards and assessments which prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;

— Building data systems to measure student growth and success, and inform school staff how they can improve instruction;

— Recruiting, developing, rewarding and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and

— Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.

“Race to the Top will reward states that have demonstrated success in raising student achievement and have the best plans to accelerate their reforms in the future,” states the summary. “These states will offer models for others to follow and will spread the best reform ideas across their states, and across the country.”

Trickett said Thursday that if the school gets the grant monies, several areas of education will be tackled, including professional development, individual student learning and technology.

“We hope to pick up the slack where we’ve had a decrease in (state funding),” Trickett said.

Board member Delmar Mahan motioned to approve the memorandum noting the school system will apply for the grant, with a second from Board member Brenda Hill. A roll-call vote showed present board members unanimous with this decision. Board chair Larry Lambdin was unable to attend the meeting.