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No local winners for Race to the Top education grants

Southern California schools have been shut out of a high-profile federal grant competition, according to results announced Tuesday.

The one regional finalist for the latest round of Race to the Top grants was a charter school organization, Green Dot Public Schools, that could have received $30 million. But its bid fell just short.

Green Dot Chief Executive Marco Petruzzi said he was disappointed about not getting the funds, but said the organization still would attempt to take the steps forward that were outlined in the proposal.

Los Angeles Unified also had entered the competition but didn’t get to the final round, in large measure because the teachers union would not endorse the application as required. The union said the money wasn’t worth the strings and added costs attached to it.

 The application required unions to commit to using data measuring student academic growth in teacher evaluations. At the application deadline, LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles were in negotiations over such a system; they have since reached a tentative accord over the issue.

Initially, only states could apply for the grants — and California was unsuccessful. In the latest round, school districts could apply directly; it was an opportunity for which L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy had lobbied federal officials. L.A. Unified could have qualified for a $40-million grant.

California was not shut out entirely this time around. The state winners were Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, south of Sacramento; Lindsay Unified School District, east of Tulare; and New Haven Unified School District, south of Oakland. Galt and Lindsay each will receive $10 million; New Haven will get $29.4 million. The amounts are based mostly on the size of the school system.

Galt earned the third-highest rating among the 16 winning applications nationally.

The district “has established a comprehensive, high quality reform vision,” one scorer wrote.

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-- Howard Blume

 
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