Highline One of Seven School Districts to Win $40 Million ‘Race to the Top’ Grant

Highline Public Schools is one of seven King County districts to win a share of $40 million in federal “Race to the Top” funds, the U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday (Dec. 11).

Highline, along with Auburn, Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Seattle and Tukwila school districts competed together this fall as “The Road Map District Consortium,” a reference to their participation in the Road Map Project. This project is a collaborative effort to dramatically improve education in South Seattle and South King County.

“I am thrilled to announce that our proposal has been granted full funding of $40 million,” said Dr. Susan Enfield, Highline Superintendent. “We are one of just two applications across the country to receive the full $40 million.”

“I want to thank Alan Spicciati and other members of the Highline team who contributed to developing our application,” Enfield added. “This was a regional team effort, and I am so proud to be part of the coalition that put together this successful application. Most importantly, this grant will give us the opportunity to make a significant difference for the children of Highline and the South King County Region.”

The King County districts’ application was among 16 winners selected out of 372 applications. Awards ranged from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the number of students served by the plan. The Road Map District Consortium was one of only two applicants to win the maximum award of $40 million.

“This is a major victory for students and families in South King County,” said Senator Patty Murray. “When we level the playing field by providing increased access and opportunity for our students, everyone wins. I congratulate the Road Map District Consortium for their outstanding leadership and collaboration in this endeavor. This victory will have a long-lasting impact on our community, and our state, as we all work together to build a brighter future for our students.”

The Puget Sound Educational Service District will serve as the lead agency responsible for overall project management and function as the fiscal agent.

“This amazing accomplishment proves that great things can happen when we work together. Thank you to all our partner organizations, districts, unions, community agencies, cities and housing authorities. The effort and commitment behind this plan is unprecedented – it’s a level of collaboration that should be celebrated and replicated,” said John Welch, Superintendent of the Puget Sound Educational Service District.“The region’s plan is designed to have big impact where it’s needed most. We are excited to roll out strategies that will help all students experience success.”

The winning plan covers 261 schools and 150,000 students, including 36,000 high-need children. The districts will use the four-year Race to the Top grant to implement the following plans to help students “Start Strong,” be “STEM Strong” and “Stay Strong”:

Start Strong – We know that early learning is critical

  • Provide funds to help districts work with preschools and early learning programs to help kids be ready to be successful in kindergarten
  • Improve math, science and English Language Learner (ELL) teaching and leadership approaches so all students receive high-quality instruction

STEM Strong – We live in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-intensive region

  • Provide a computer-based math instructional program for all high-need K-8th grade students that they can use in school and at home
  • Help students explore STEM careers via online tools, speakers, mentors and internships
  • Be a leader in implementing Next Generation Science Standards

Stay Strong – These strategies will help more students be successful in post-secondary education

  • Offer all students the opportunity to take the SAT and PSAT in school for free
  • Offer training for middle and high school guidance counselors and provide counselor assistants to better serve more students
  • Offer districts the opportunity to the Advanced Placement (AP) course selections for students and help more teachers to get AP course training. Also, provide the opportunity to include more STEM, International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, world language and career certificate options

The grant also meets minimum federal requirements:

  • Strong focus on personalizing education
  • Stronger teacher, principal and superintendent evaluations by 2014
  • Implementation of Common Core State Standards complete by the 2014-15 school year
  • Transparent reporting of data and school-level expenditures

Additionally, the consortium’s commitments go beyond the minimum federal requirements:

  • Provide all high-need elementary students with a summer reading plan
  • Double the number of students taking algebra or higher by the end of eighth grade
  • Help all eighth-grade students complete a personalized plan to be college- and career-ready

This is the first time the federal Race to the Top competition has been open to districts and district consortiums. Previously, the grants had only been offered to states.

To read the region’s Race to the Top application, click here.

To view a full list of Race to the Top finalists, please click here.

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