U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will announce the finalists Tuesday in the Race to the Top grant competition for $3.4 billion.
Oklahoma was among 35 states who applied for the second round of federal stimulus grants and Duncan said he expects 10-15 states win a share of the cash.
Despite Oklahoma’s poor showing in the first round, lawmakers rallied around an education reform package known as Senate Bill 2033, and submitted an application that many considered competitive.
The publication Education Week named Oklahoma the “dark horse”in the race, and other publications have noted the scope of the state’s reforms, including a new teacher evaluation system, adopting a nation-wide common curriculum and loosening restrictions on charter schools.
You can view how Oklahoma would spend the $175 million in the narative and budget here.
James Burkey, the chief operating officer for Oklahoma City Public Schools, described the district’s headquarters at 900 N Klein as “way past the point of no return.”
At Monday’s school board meeting, Burkey showed photos of buckling exterior bricks, crumbling interior walls, an empty pool atrium and abandoned locker rooms “jammed full of records.”
The very last of the projects under the capital improvement sales tax and bond issue known as MAPS for Kids is for the district to remodel or relocate its headquarters.
Voters in 2001 approved the MAPS for Kids projects including $3.31 million for the renovation or new construction of an 81,000 square foot building.
The district’s current building is 102,000 square feet.
“I continue to have concerns about there not being enough money to fund the project fully,” Board Member Phil Horning said.
Horning and Superintendent Karl Springer both mentioned the possibility of merging the administration building project with the construction of a downtown elementary school to save money and pool resources.
900 N Klein is in a serious state of disrepair. A meeting last month was interrupted with flying sparks from an light outlet and Board Member Gail Vines bemoaned the fact that the “roof caved in” on her.
However, there might be some aspects of the building worth salvaging.
Burkey said the now hidden balcony above the school board auditorium has “dynamite crown molding … that people would probably die for.”
Here are the improvement plans for US Grant High School, Douglass Middle School and F.D. Moon Academy. These plans, which include a variety of interventions from replacing half of the schools teachers to adding 60 minutes of instruction each day, will be implemented this summer.
The Oklahoma City School District received $12.1 million in federal grants on Wednesday to help turn around these three struggling schools.
Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, serious intervention would have been required at two of the schools this summer.
Both US Grant High School and F.D. Moon Academy have failed to meed Adequate Yearly Progress for enough years in a row that they were required to “restructure for the 2010-2011 school year.
That process looked differently this year than any other year since the historic legislation passed in 2001 as the U.S. Department of Education made the restructuring process a competitive grant process that promised millions to the nation’s lowest performing schools.
Both Grant and Moon made that list, but so did Douglass Middle School, which had been on track to require restructuring before Principal Brian Staples took over the school in February 2008. That school year and the next, test scores rose and the school was removed from the needs improvement list.
However, the school was still eligible for the federal School Improvement Grants.
Do you think the plans will improve the schools?