Louisiana back in Race to the Top competition

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2010

By David Vitrano


LAPLACE – Although it missed the cut the first time, Louisiana has been named one of the finalists in the second round of Race to the Top applications.

Race to the Top is an education reform initiative in which states vie for a share of $4.35 billion in federal funds. Almost $3.4 billion is still available for the second round of funding.

Louisiana is one of 19 finalists in the second round. The finalists are Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina. In all, 35 states competed for the second round of funding.

In St. John the Baptist Parish, Superintendent Courtney Millet was jubilant about the announcement.

“We were very happy about that because we’re doing a lot with stimulus money,” she said. “We’ll be able to continue with our Motion Leadership program.”

Only 28 of Louisiana’s 70 school districts signed on to take part in the initiative, a fact which some have speculated may have hurt the state’s chances during the round one selection process.

Next week, the finalists will travel to Washington to present their plans in person to the same panel that reviewed applications. Winners will be announced in September.

According to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, not all of the money remaining in the fund will be awarded in September. President Barack Obama has asked that $1.35 billion be reserved for the program for the 2011 fiscal year.

In April, the first round of awardees in the initiative was announced. Although Louisiana was named a finalist, only Tennessee and Delaware received any funding.