Glendale Unified disqualified from Race to the Top competition

Glendale's Hail Mary pass in the $400-million Race to the Top federal grant program has been called by the officials: Incomplete.

One day after the U.S. Department of Education announced it received 371 applications for the $400 million grant program, officials confirmed Glendale would be thrown out of the competition for lacking the require sign-on from the district’s teachers union.

In vying for roughly $40 million, Glendale officials had sent its 503-page application to Washington, D.C. — along with 72 letters of support — even without the union signature in a last ditch hope that it may be considered anyway, but federal officials on Thursday said it would be a futile effort.

“We require the union signature because this challenging work cannot be done at the district level unless everyone is committed and working together,” Assistant Secretary of Education Peter Cunningham said in an email.

Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson refused to sign the grant application because the district could not promise it wouldn’t lay off teachers to combat its $15-million structural deficit later this year. The union was also concerned over the district’s ability to sustain the programs the grant would create once the money was exhausted.

Glendale Unified’s lead grant writer, Kelly King, said it was “unfortunate” Glendale could not contend for the potential $40 million in funding over four years.

“We understand it will not be granted. At least it was sent,” she said. “For everyone who poured their hearts and time into that grant, it gave the symbol it was complete and it was ready.”

Glendale was one 21 California school districts that applied and among 1,189 school districts and educational consortiums the applications represent.

Los Angeles Unified also sent in its application despite failing to secure support from its teachers union, which raised concerns over provision attached to the grant that would have require student test scores be factored into job evaluations.

“It’s something that other unions saw and took advantage of and our union chose not to,” King said. “Even if sending it was a symbolic gesture, it was still important.”

Across the country, school districts in 43 states sent in applications.

States with schools that did not throw a hat in the ring include Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming.

In a statement, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said officials were “thrilled at the response we've received from districts across the country that have developed innovative plans to drive education reform in the classroom.”

Grant winners, who will receive between $5 million and $40 million, will be notified by Dec. 31.

-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan


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