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November 23, 2014

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CCSD unsuccessful in bid for $40 million in Race to the Top funds

The Clark County School District was unsuccessful in its bid for $40 million in Race to the Top federal funds, the U.S. Education Department announced Monday.

The School District was among 372 applicants — representing more than 900 school districts across the country — vying for a piece of $400 million in federal grant money as part of the inaugural Race to the Top grant competition for local school districts.

"CCSD is disappointed to learn we are not among the finalists for the most recent Race to the Top competition," Amanda Fulkerson, a district spokeswoman, said in a statement. "The funding would have gone into the classrooms of our most at-risk schools. Despite this news, the district is committed to continuing our progress in academic achievement utilizing the resources we are allotted."

The federal government named just 61 finalists, or just 16 percent of the total applicant pool. Because smaller school districts could pool their applications, these 61 finalists represent more than 200 school districts across the country.

Four school districts in Nevada — Carson, Clark, Lyon and Washoe counties — had applied for Race to the Top funding. Only Carson City was named a finalist still in the running for $10 to $20 million in grant money.

This continues Clark County's unsuccessful run with Race to the Top competitions. In 2009, the School District, which has an annual budget of about $2 billion, applied and failed in a statewide bid for a piece of $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funding for states.

It is unknown yet why Clark County's second Race to the Top application failed. Those details are expected to be released in the coming weeks, Fulkerson said.

Three-person panels evaluated and independently scored each application. Those individual judges’ scores then were averaged into an overall score for the applicant.

The U.S. Education Department then ranked the applications from highest-scoring to lowest-scoring. The top 61 applications were selected as finalists.

The department is expected to select between 15 and 25 winning applications from the 61 finalists next month. Winning school districts will receive between $5 million and $40 million in grant awards, depending on the number of students served by the district.

The Clark County School District's Race to the Top bid nearly fell apart last month after the local teachers union declined to support the district's application. A signature from the teachers union was a requirement for the competitive grant program.

However, Gov. Brian Sandoval intervened in the last minutes before the Nov. 2 deadline and mediated a compromise between the district and the union. It is unknown if vacillating union support for the application was a factor in Clark County's unsuccessful bid, Fulkerson said.

"While additional funding would have been welcome, we are committed to our students and employees and are proud of the hard work by our team who prepared the application and our community, especially Gov. Sandoval, who stepped up to support it," Fulkerson said in a statement. "This process gave us a welcome opportunity to partner with our teacher's association leaders that we hope will continue into a long-term partnership to make real improvements for our students."

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  1. This is unfortunate. I hope the Sun follows up on this story and reports why the application failed.

  2. I would have thought Senator Harry Reid could have made this happen.

  3. Why would a teacher be glad that the district was NOT able to obtain this grant?

    I'm glad.

    Districts that have won this grant can tell you . . . too many strings. This $40 million carrot costs 3 carrots to implement. And one carrot to maintain. Basically . . . it's a costly grant. It costs too much. And that is NOT taking into account the labor time that it costs. The initial investment is costly to maintain.

    I'm also against some of the provisions - that require privatizing or converting a certain number of schools to charters.

    I'm also against the common core curriculum - if it doesn't allow authentic learning across a diverse and multi-ethnic population.

    I'm also against using student test scores as a measurement of teacher quality. I believe this could cause many teachers to not want to teach students who traditionally do not score well on standardized tests. For instance, students of poverty or English Language Learning students.

    This grant has been devastating to some districts that implemented the changes it requires. Causing change that is not research based - with mixed results.

    There is currently a movement to contact Arne Duncan the Secretary of Education and ask that he consider better approaches to reform - because this grant and the changes it requires are not research based and do not show student improvement.

  4. "I'm also against the common core curriculum - if it doesn't allow authentic learning across a diverse and multi-ethnic population." Angie, could you please expound further on this statement...I would like to understand what it is you mean. Thanks!

  5. I see comments on here defending the individuality of the teacher. I recognize the challenges that each teacher has, but when can we get on with the "stop blaming me," and teach? Take a school like Bowler ES in Overton; it appears that this school is less than satisfactory. Can you validate that the entire community of Overton is less than desirable to make this school this way? This is a great example/ sample in that it is large enough and isolated from the greater valley to show statistics vs performance. YOU "Angie Sullivan" personify the administration of the CCSD... "IT'S NOT ME, I SWEAR IT!" Like we say at my place of employment, "If it was easy, we would all be doing it!"

  6. Thank you Angie for your link. I appreciate hearing your thoughts in greater detail. In all honesty, your experience to date with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has not been mine. I appreciate the more rigorous standards and the knowledge that I am teaching the same standards at the same level as a teacher in MA, FL, WA, etc. It is true, however, that individual leaders at individual schools will interpret the CCSS differently and that it may be a far narrower interpretation...one that includes everyone doing the same thing at the same time with prescribed materials thus destroying the "art" of teaching. It hasn't been my experience. I am fortunate to work in an environment in which teachers are trusted for their professionalism and skill. Blessings to you! Kindergarten teachers rock!

  7. So we have a first grade teacher who is glad they didn't get the money because the teachers would have had to work harder. It's not enough they get all kinds of time off, they also want to coast through the school day and only teach good students. That's awesome, go Teachers Union where the kids come last.

  8. Brian, unfortunately you are correct. The majority of teachers who Post here are just not interested in the kids. Some pay a little lip service but really lobby for more money, more money, more money, for teachers, teachers, teachers. Never a legitimate consideration of how to IMPROVE teaching. As always, Arizona manages to get more graduates, many who can read and write, for $1,000 per student per year LESS. And Arizona has similar demographics--lots of ELL, lots of low-income conflicting cultures, similar COL.... translates to CCSD wasting $100 million a year.

  9. Forget movements and networking. Get into the classrooms and TEACH the basics. Students NEED reading, writing, rithmetic. Students DO NOT NEED teachers with open to pourus attitudes and endless "concerns" for non-traditional teaching methods. Get the old standards down FIRST.

  10. Again, the union sinks efforts to provide quality education for Nevada children. It's clear that they don't really care about eduction, just about power. I hope teachers get wise and de-certify this sham of an organization.

  11. I don't know all of the grant details/requirements, but based on what I've heard from teachers (both supporting and opposing this program), I tend to agree with sheilacatherine. I WANT us to be held to a higher standard. I WANT to know that our community doesn't have lower standards than kids in the Midwest, northeast, etc. I don't want to use smoke and mirrors to show that the district is succeeding, when it's actually failing when compared to other districts in the nation (in a nation that is falling behind other developed countries). Our administrators need to be intelligent enough to find ways to keep those standards in place, but to tailor instruction to the students in our district.

    That said, I'm not thrilled about the charter school "requirement" that Angie wrote about. I'd have to understand that. The charter school label doesn't guaranty success, and I think that most people (who do any type of research) understand that. I have a hard time believing that Duncan would require that, but I've seen more idiotic things coming from the government. If it's a situation where the district needs to "allow" more charter schools, then that's a bit different.

    Again, looking forward to more details.

  12. improveLV: Just how would American schools excel compared to Europe? We keep importing millions of students from the third world and think they will learn English AND achieve as if they are Americans? To say nothing of the excessive costs of having 25-50% of K-12 students being illegal and NOT entitled to a "free" education.

  13. How short your memories. The teachers wouldn't agree with basic requirements that effectiveness be part of the evaluation process--the delays precluded serious consideration of CCSD.

  14. I'm glad we didn't get the money. Because we would have had to SPEND more money than we got to implement the requirements and maintain the requirements.

    Sometimes you have to THINK. You have to do a cost analysis on the offering. If the time and labor and programs are MORE expensive than the initial grant -- especially over the following years. . . than the $40 million dollars is not worth it.

    If you think I'm against Race to the Top because of the work - than you obviously do not know me at all.

    If you think I'm against Race to the Top or Common Core Curriculum because I'm against raising rigor - than you obviously do not know me at all.

    I'm against Race to the Top because of it's privatizing/charter requirements.

    I'm also against Race to the Top because of it's tying standardized testing - which is and always will be racially and culturally biased - to killing public schools or firing teachers. Standardized testing and basing everything we do on test scores is racist and culturally insensitive.

    I'm against Race to the Top because I still believe that children are more than a score.

    I'm against Race to the Top because I think it labels and segregates kids.

    I'm against Race to the Top because it's a bad policy.

    I'm against Race to the Top because I don't believe my young students should have to compete or be measured against the entire nation.

    I'm against Race to the Top because it is NOT research based and has NOT been shown to be effective anywhere over the long term.

    And yes, I voted for President Obama.

    And no, I have no problem telling the President on a regular basis that I don't approve of his education policies. I believe that the teachers by the thousands striking in the streets of Chicago - against the terrible corporate reform movement implement by current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaks for itself. The reform doesn't help kids. It doesn't work in Chicago - and it doesn't work in Nevada.

    I believe it is my duty as a teacher to tell the public - this testing frenzy and basing everything we do on a Total Quality Management Business model - is harming generations of students. We are damaging kids. It's no good. And I will keep speaking out about it until people start listening.

    If we convert all our schools to privatized/hybrid corporate charters - we will regret it and it's not good for our communities.

  15. Yeah Bob. But so many of the parents and public swallow this garbage. What's biased about doing the alphabet in English? Sure, if you're ELL, it might take you a bit of effort but so it also takes effort for the little White boy to do it. And it's a CLEAR REFLECTION on the teacher if one of her/his 16 kindergarten students can't do it. Ditto re arithmetic. 2 x 3 is the same in EVERY language, culture, society. And then what about all the American cultures? Yes that's plural and we need to respect the cultures derived from each and every ethnic group that emigrated. Don't even try to tell me that the progeny of the Germans do not remain distinct from (although intermarrying) and respected by, say, the progeny of the English. Just as soon as a descendant of a legal immigrant (not amnestied) can distinguish and explain OUR cultures, should we concern ourselves so inordinately with whether s/he came from Mexico or Venezuela.

  16. I'm against "teachers" who are against everything but have NOTHING to offer. Let's stop paying them for subterfuge.