School Systems Eyes Plans to 'Race to the Top'
BY HANNAH SHARPE
The Moore County school system hopes to use its share of Race to the Top federal funding to continue growing to greatness.
Superintendent Susan Purser told the Moore County Board of Education that the system has the opportunity to receive $1,039,273 from the federal program during her report at Monday's board meeting.
The school system turned in its application for the funds to the N.C. Department of Instruction (DPI) Monday.
Purser stressed that the grant does not fill budget deficits, but it does fund ongoing activities that are compatible with the system's "Growing to Greatness" pathways, which allow schools to make goals for progress based on individual growth assessments.
"When we look at our focus for the Race to the Top application, it isn't that we would be using funding on stuff that's already been done," she said. "It's not that, but it is funding that will help support the work that we have already identified that is the appropriate work for those of us in Moore County schools."
North Carolina was one of nine states to receive $400 million in the second round of the federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education in August. The program rewards states for educational innovation.
Half of the funds will go to DPI to provide state-level support in the implementation of the program. The other half will be distributed to school districts using the Title 1 funding formula.
The program requires that the funds allocated must be spent to support North Carolina's plan and its four "pillars" of work: great teachers and principals, quality standards and assessments, data system to improve instruction and turnaround of lowest-achieving schools.
According to DPI, these pillars support the "Career and College: Ready, Set, Go!" education initiative that seeks to graduate students who are prepared for college and the workforce.
Purser said that a major portion of the money would go toward the professional development of teachers and principals to ensure that they are prepared for the new curriculum standards implemented by the state through Race to the Top.
"The standard course of study is eventually going to disappear and there will be the common core, and it's going to be very different," Purser said.
The funding would also help provide resources for teachers as they deal with the changing curriculum, giving them model lessons that teachers can reference and adapt for more flexibility in the classroom.
Purser said that a team of teachers is already working to develop instructional resources that help translate the "common core" curriculum.
In regard to technology upgrades and assessment, Purser said the program requirements for infrastructural improvements fit nicely with the IT plan already in place for the school system, which prepares for a greater reliance on technology.
"The state is moving toward having all of our assessments online," Purser said. "In order to do that, we're going to have to upgrade our infrastructure."
Purser added that the application only focused on three of the four pillars because there are no "turnaround schools" in the system.
Purser said that the office expects to hear back from the state in seven to 10 days to see if any adjustments to the application are necessary.
The board also helped unofficially kick off American Education Week, which begins Nov. 14. During the week, schools will participate in a variety of activities celebrating the importance and value of public education.
As a part of the week's celebration, Purser asked each board member to select three books from a list of recommended books to be placed in the libraries of the schools. Each school will have a book placed in its library with a nameplate on the inside cover honoring an individual board member.
"Because of your belief in the power of learning to read, we felt that that was an important contribution to honor the service that you are providing," Purser told the board.
The board also honored the contributions of members Sue Black and Pam Thompson, who are retiring from the board. Both lost in the Nov. 2 election for the at-large seats.
Black is leaving the board after 18 years of service. She told her fellow board members that she would miss them, but she is also looking forward to having some free time.
"I feel that I gained so much more than I gave," Black said. "I think Enola and Ed will do a good job. It's time to go, and I feel like I can go knowing that you are in good hands."
Thompson, who served on the board for four years, also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve.
"It's been a pleasure working with all of you guys," she said. "I definitely will miss you."
The board plans to elect new officers at its next meeting Dec. 6. Current board members Dale Frye and Charles Lambert, along newly elected members, Enola Lineberger and Ed Dennison, will also be sworn in for new terms.
Contact Hannah Sharpe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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