Richmond County to apply for more federal school reform funds

The Richmond County School System is applying for another $40 million in federal funds to continue school reform that began in 2010 with its share of the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top grant.

This next round of money would pay to create Personalized Learning Environments for students, which is instruction aimed at each child’s needs and problem areas rather than teaching every child the same way.

Virginia Bradshaw, the district’s executive director of middle schools, said that environment would be mostly technology-based.

“This would be a way to continue some of the work that we started under this Race to the Top grant,” Bradshaw said. “The potential for funding is more than twice what we have received.”

The Richmond County Board of Education on Tuesday gave staff permission to apply for the grant, which will be awarded to successful districts in December.

The Department of Education announced the $4 billion Race to the Top grant in 2009 and awarded states money to fund teacher support and data analysis efforts in persistently low performing schools. Georgia received about $400 million to aid struggling schools in 2010, of which Richmond County received $16 million to use over four years.

With that round of money set to run out in 2014, Bradshaw said this award would be a way to continue reform efforts that have started to make changes in struggling schools.

However, this 2012 grant is aimed to be more classroom-based than the teacher training and data analysis that was pushed with the 2010 money.

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