9/30/11 School system making plans with Race to the Top funds

School system making plans with Race to the Top funds
By Mike Wilder The Times-News 9/30/11     
Reprinted with permission.

   Federal Race to the Top money will help prepare the Alamance-Burlington Schools for new state instructional standards.

   Other goals include more access to technology for students and, as earlier discussed, improving achievement in the system’s lowest-performing schools.

   Rhonda Schuhler, the Alamance-Burlington system’s executive director of curriculum and professional development, updated school board members this week on plans for using Race to the Top money. Through the state, the system gets $2.48 million. A little less than $430,000 goes back to the state for a statewide technology system. That leaves $2,051,453 for the local system to spend during the next four years.

   Of that amount:   

  • $780,000 will go toward increased technology access for students. Schuhler said the goal is to work toward one-on-one access, with every student having a laptop or other piece of technology, though the money being provided won’t be enough to reach the goal.

   “It’s an expensive and lengthy process,” Schuhler said.   

  • $170,000 will be spent on professional development for teachers and other system employees to prepare for the new “Common Core” standards that go into place in 2012-13. Broadly speaking, the standards are designed to align what students in North Carolina learn with what is taught in other states.

   Schuhler said more information will soon be made available to the school board and public about the new standards.   

  • $772,000 will be spent on efforts to improve “turnaround schools.” Schuhler said those schools are in the bottom 5 percent in the state as measured by test scores. The local turn-around schools are Eastlawn Elementary, Haw River Elementary and the Alamance-Burlington Middle College.  
  • $240,000 for maintaining data to be used in improving student achievement.
  • $89,000 to promote student readiness for college and careers.

   While the Alamance-Burlington system already had some of the goals in place — such an increasing technology in the schools and preparing teachers for the Common Core standards — its strategies in spending the money must coincide with the state’s goals.

   “The funding must be used to support the state objectives,” Schuhler said.