Most Viewed Stories
Lindsay school district awarded $10 million
LINDSAY — The Lindsay Unified School District has raced to the top and will receive a $10 million prize.
The small rural school district in Southeastern Tulare County was one of 16 winners in the nation of the 2012 Race to the Top-District competition, the U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday morning.
“The award is a great step forward for the learners, the learning facilitators, the leaders and the entire community of Lindsay,” LUSD Superintendent Tom Rooney said at a press conference Tuesday at the district office. “Today is a very proud day for the Lindsay Unified community.”
The $10 million will be spread out over the next four years. Rooney did not know exactly how much they would receive each year of the grant.
The first installment can be used for the second half of the 2012-13 school year. The district has 100 days to fine tune its implementation plan for the grant.
The money comes on the heels of a successful bond measure passed by Lindsay voters in November. With Measure L, the district can use $16 million for school improvements, such as classroom repairs, fixing leaking roofs and upgrading classrooms.
Lindsay’s Race to the Top application focused on its performance-based education system, which has garnered national attention since its implementation four to five years ago.
Essentially, students — or learners as they are referred to in the Lindsay district — must demonstrate knowledge by completing specified tasks before being allowed to move on.
The system is based on the belief “that people learn in different ways and they learn in different time frames,” Rooney said. “What we have done is structured a system based on this principle.”
Rooney said several times if Lindsay had not received an award, the district still planned to do everything it described in its application.
The winning applicants were the top scorers among the 372 applications the department received in November. Applications were evaluated and scored by independent peer reviewers. Grantees represent a diverse set of districts, including applicants from both states that received a Race to the Top state grant, as well as those that have not received Race to the Top state funding.
Lindsay, which has an enrollment of 4,000, ranked 16th with a score of 196.33, just ahead of two applicants with scores of 195.33. The Porterville Unified School District submitted an application and was ranked 113th with a score of 162.67.
The Carson City (Nev.) School District had the top score, 208.33, and also requested $10 million. Applicants had to specify an award amount — two of the winners asked for $40 million.
“They said they wished they had more money but they simply ran out,” Rooney said of why 16 were awarded grants.
The grant will allow Lindsay to accelerate its system “exponentially” — specifically in terms of technology and digital learning for both students and teacher, and making it easier for other schools or districts to implement its model.
“Other districts will then be able to learn what it takes to become a performance-based education system,” Rooney said.
In addition, the award will allow LUSD to fully develop and refine all aspects of the approach, including:
- Learning accountability systems
- Adjusting the guaranteed and viable curriculum to reflect common core and career readiness standards
- Improving the assessment system and refining assessments by developing more performance-based assessments
- Focus on individualized, student-centered learning
- Moving to full 24-7 access to learning for all learners
- Building out level 4 projects and learning opportunities which require the application of knowledge
- Training all staff and leadership on best practices of student-centered, personalized learning systems
The 16 winners, including three from California, will share nearly $400 million. They represent 55 school districts across 11 states and D.C. In late November, Lindsay learned it was one of 61 finalists. Nearly 400 applicants from across the nation entered the grant competition.
“Districts have been hungry to drive reform at the local level, and now these winners can empower their school leaders to pursue innovative ideas where they have the greatest impact: in the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The Race to the Top-District grantees have shown tremendous leadership though developing plans that will transform the learning environment and enable students to receive a personalized, world-class education.”
A complete list of the winners can be found online at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district/index.html.
Contact Brian Williams at 784-5000, ext. 1044. Follow him on Twitter @b_dubw.