The federal Department of Education on Thursday rejected the state’s application for up to $700 million in Race to the Top stimulus money, designed to help the nation’s lowest-performing schools catch up.
Fifteen states and Washington, D.C., are in the running for the first phase of $4.35 billion in grant money. Winners will be announced next month, when California will also receive feedback on its failed 131-page application.
Tracy Unified School District was one of 812 districts, about half of those in the state, that hoped to get a chunk of the grant.
Six of the district’s schools are Title I schools, where 40 percent of students are considered low-income. The state had pledged to give half its grant money to such schools.
Linda Boragno-Dopp, Tracy Unified’s director of alternative programs, had said last month that the district is already doing things the Race to the Top money is planned for.
California’s application lays out how it would use the money to refine standards and tests, prepare students for college or careers, monitor students’ progress and recruit better teachers and principals.
On a conference call Thursday, Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss said the state will try to strengthen its application for the next round of grants, the applications for which are due in June.
She said the state now has time to consult with legislators, union leaders, school districts and parents to push harder.
“Maybe we were a little rushed in December,” Reiss said.