Race to the top grant still has sticking points for Glendale education officials

Glendale Teachers Assn. officials, in talks with the district regarding its support for federal Race to the Top funds, said they remain concerned regarding testing requirements and funding implications — issues that scuttled Glendale Unified’s chances for the multi-million bounty last year.

In order to contend for the Race to the Top grants, the district must submit an application to the U.S. Department of Education by Oct. 3 bearing the signatures of school board President Nayiri Nahabedian, Glendale Supt. Dick Sheehan and Glendale Teachers Union President Phyllis Miller. If the grant is approved, the district would receive up to $30 million.

Under the terms of the grant, district officials would be required to evaluate teachers using, in part, students’ test scores, a continuing issue with the teachers union.

“We’re looking at how we can work together to see if we can make this work,” Miller said, who spoke to Sheehan this week and will be meeting with district officials on Sept. 12 to further discuss the grant.

But, she added: “We have a big concern about the use of test scores and how teachers are evaluated using test scores.”

Miller said she is also concerned with how the district will continue to fund the programs it would implement with the grant once the grant funds are spent.

School officials at a school board meeting this week said that if their application is successful, the money would be used partly to establish robotics labs at all four middle schools, provide after-school enrichment classes for high school students, and hire more counselors to support middle school students as they transition to high school.

Glendale Unified applied for the grant in 2012 but the application was unsuccessful because former teachers’ union president Tami Carlson refused to sign, citing the district’s refusal to promise to not lay off teachers. As is still the case, Carlson was also concerned about sustaining the grant’s programs once the funding was gone.

But school officials expressed renewed hope regarding this year’s application.

“We were very excited about what we were doing last year so I’m just glad to have another chance to submit what we had planned,” said school board member Christine Walters during this week’s board meeting.

When the school district applied for the grant last year, it collected more than 70 letters of support from community organizations and universities such as UCLA and USC.

If Glendale Unified were to win the grant, the district would be required to implement its programs by the beginning of the next school year.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.


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