District will try again for Race to the Top grant

Glendale Unified officials have renewed hope that the district can win a federal grant worth up to $30 million following the district's failed attempt to win the grant last year because it lacked support from the Glendale Teachers Assn.

In 2012, the district prepared to contend for a Race to the Top grant, then worth up to $40 million. With the extra funding, school officials had planned to hire more intervention teachers and curriculum specialists as well as pay for expansion of programs such as robotics.

But they missed one mandatory component — a signature from Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson.

Carlson said she was concerned about how the district would sustain the grant-funded programs once the money was spent so she refused to sign off on the application. She was also upset that district officials could not promise that they would not lay off teachers to reduce a multi-million structural deficit.

Meanwhile, some teachers voiced their support for the grant in an online petition or emailed Carlson, pleading with her to sign the application.

In late October, when Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast, federal officials delayed the grant's deadline, prompting Glendale educators to extend negotiations with the union, but they couldn't come to an agreement.

With a looming deadline and still no signature from Carlson, district officials mailed the 503-page application to the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. It was disqualified.

Now officials plan to use last year's application as an outline and are hopeful about gaining support from the new president of the teachers' union, Phyllis Miller, an educator who began teaching fourth grade for Glendale Unified in 1996.

"We are very much looking forward to working with Phyllis Miller … and the [Glendale Teachers Assn.] to hopefully be able to move forward with this," said Supt. Dick Sheehan at a school board meeting this week.

Miller said she plans to discuss the grant with union board members soon.

The new application again must capture Glendale Unified's commitment to make students ready for college and a career and show prior success with students achieving their academic goals.

Also, districts must have at least 40% of their students come from low-income families — a requirement that Glendale fulfills.

In northern and central California last year, three school districts won nearly $50 million in Race to the Top funds.

For Kelly King, the assistant superintendent of educational services who served as the lead grant writer last year, those awards stand as a positive sign for Glendale's renewed chances.

"There is a precedent for California districts being funded," she said.

The grant application is due Oct. 3. The awards will be announced in December.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.


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