Meadville Tribune

Local News

January 21, 2010

Most area school districts drop out of 'Race'

The first round of applications are in and 40 states — including Pennsylvania — are pitted against one another in a highly-competitive race for $4.35 billion in one-time federal economic stimulus dollars designed to reform education in the United States. Winning states will be announced in April.

If Pennsylvania ultimately wins the Race to the Top and receives all or part of the full $400 million the state is eligible to receive under federal guidelines, PENNCREST School District will be the only Crawford County district with an opportunity to compete for direct funding.

PENNCREST has been advised by the Pennsylvania Department of Education that the district is eligible to receive between $500,000 and $1.5 million over a four-year period if the state’s bid is successful, Superintendent Richard Borchilo said Wednesday. The amount of the award is dependent on the total number of Pennsylvania districts that choose to participate.

A total of 120 of the state’s 500 school districts filed memoranda of understanding signed by each district’s superintendent, school board president and local teacher’s union by the Jan. 13 deadline; 59 charter schools also submitted the necessary paperwork.

According to the governor’s office, participating northwestern Pennsylvania school districts include Erie County’s City of Erie, Fort LeBoeuf, Girard, Harbor Creek, Iroquois, North East and Union City Area school districts; Warren County School District; and Mercer County’s Hermitage and Sharon City school districts.

If Pennsylvania’s quest for the federal dollars is successful, at least half of the funds will be divvied up by participating districts. The rest of the funding received by the state will be used to “build and deliver state-level tools and resources for all schools and all districts,” according to a statement released by the office of Gov. Ed Rendell.

Confusion about the program itself was one of the main reasons for opting out cited by districts both in this area and across the state.

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