West Point closer to education grant

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Green River Regional Cooperative one of 61 Race to the Top finalists

By Kelly Cantrall

Districts looking to create student buy-in in the educational process are one step closer to federal funding for the program.

The Green River Regional Education Cooperative is one of 61 finalists for a Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education. West Point Independent School is one of the districts participating in the grant proposal, and could benefit if the grant is awarded to the cooperative.

This round of Race to the Top funding is being awarded to districts and cooperatives that lay out plans and programs to personalize student learning, according to a news release from the Department of Education.

Johna Rodgers, a grant writer at the co-op, said she believes the proposal is strong, but knows the odds of receiving a grant are long. Of the 61 finalists, Department of Education plans to award between 15 to 25 grants.

“Well, we’re cautiously hopeful,” Rodgers said. “We still have a long way to go.”

The co-op requested $40 million in the grant proposal, the largest amount that could be awarded in one grant. The Department of Education will give out close to $400 million in grants.

The plan the cooperative submitted includes improvements at each school in the districts to help students “understand their own role when they arrive at the school building and take responsibility for their role,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers said the education field sometimes loses sight of why students are in school and subsequently does not explain to the students how they benefit from the experience. The money would allow the co-op to provide support and staffing to participating schools.

Twenty-two of the 37 districts in the co-op are participating in the plan, including West Point Independent. Principal Lee Ann Mik said funding can be difficult to come by at a small district. Mik said the plan can enable the district to change outdated teaching strategies and give students what they deserve, and allow them to “take more ownership of their own learning.”

Hardin County Schools and Elizabethtown Independent Schools, members of the cooperative, aren’t participating in the proposal. HCS Superintendent Nannette Johnston said participation would have required the district to shift focus away from some other programs showing success in their schools.

Decisions on the grants will be announced no later than Dec. 31, according to the Department of Education release.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.