Wednesday, May 19, 2010


UPDATE 05/19/2010 AT 08:30 AM

Here is the final list of Stark County school districts (public only) which applied for federal stimulus funds (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - ARRA) tailored to the restructuring of how instruction is delivered.

 UPDATE:  05/14/2010 AT 3:30 P.M.

The SCPR has just learned from a leading Stark County education official that by the end of today Stark County could have up to 11 of Stark County's 17 school districts participating in Race to the Top federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus program specifically tailored to education infrastructure improvement.

The official told The Report that 2 or 3 of the districts are touch and go at this point in discussions, but that 9 total Stark school district participation is pretty certain as of the date and time this update is published.


In January, 2010 Stark County school districts were in a panic to get their applications together to participate in the Obama administration's (Department of Education) - Race to the Top (RttT) competitive funding of worthy programs as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

Only three districts (Marlington, Canton South and East Canton) were able get their acts together.

Canton City Schools passed up an opportunity to possibly get up to $3 million for this financially strapped school district. 

Why pass up this opportunity? 

Because school officials could not get the Canton Professional Educators' Association (CPEA) on board.  Race to the Top requires that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education signed by the president of the school board (BOE), the district's superintendent and by the head of the local union.

The CPEA told the SCPR that it was a "mutual" decision not to apply in the first round of competition because too little was understood about the ramifications of getting RttT money.  While the Canton schools administration did not directly dispute the CPEA statement to The Report, the SCPR believes that the Canton BOE and the superintendent was ready, willing and able to go forward but that the CPEA was not. 

The CPEA did tell the SCPR at the time that when a second round came up, it was very likely that the CPEA would be on board. 

Earlier today the SCPR received a call from Canton Public Schools Superintendent Michele Evans telling The Report that the Canton Professional Educators’ Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding along with Superintendent Evans and Nadine McIlwain (president of the Board of Education).

If Ohio is selected as a RttT grantee, Canton stands to realize $2 million plus.  The plus comes in with Ohio’s promise additionally fund Canton’s early childhood program, its early college effort as well as a program to close the educations gap that Canton City schools are experiencing.

Local teacher unions have been seen by many RttT advocates as being the obstacle to school district participation.  Why?  Because they see RttT as a disturber of the comfortable status quo position that they know enjoy.  A kind of "if it's not broke, why fix it" attitude.

Canton schools constituents should be pleased that the CPEA is demonstrating  union members willingness to take a new look at the delivery of public instruction within the guidelines laid out in the RttP grant application process.

CPEA’s cooperation shows that there is a new willingness on the part of local teacher unions to work collaboratively with the policy making and administration branches of school governance to solve problems that schools all across the nation are experiencing in delivering quality education.

All of Stark's districts are feeling financial distress to one degree or another.  Governor Strickland's office has let it be known that school districts across Ohio could be losing up to 30% of their state funding.

While it is true that this federal program mainly benefits urban school district which are heavily involved with federal government Title 1 funding, each Stark County district stands to benefit from participation in this second round on the hope that Ohio will be awarded a grant.

The SCPR believes that taxpayers throughout Stark County will be very displeased with the BOEs and superintendents of Stark school districts that do not apply.

Other Stark County schools who have applied for RttT funding as of early afternoon (May 14th - the deadline for applying) include Canton Local (Soutn), Jackson, Marlington and Northwest.

The SCPR is particularly pleased to see that Northwest applied inasmuch as Superintendent William Stetler had told The Report, post-Round 1, that the RttT was not worth the effort.  Such as position was hard to swallow in light of the Northwest financial problems.

As The Report sees the Northwest situation, the district is far from out of the woods on adequate financing of school operations notwithstanding the recent passage of the 1% earned income tax.

It is a credit to Canton, Canton South, Jackson, Marlington and Northwest that they have elected to participate to RttT.  To The Report, applying is a "no-brainer."

School districts still have time to apply today.  Bit with the close of business at the Ohio Department of Education (unless an extension is asked for and granted), district residents of Stark’s remaining 13 school districts will be justified in believing that those districts are financially well and do not need the RttT funds.

Again, the SCPR asks:  why would any Stark County school district not apply?

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