Race to the Top programs may tie student performance to teacher compensation

Feb. 8, 2010


When you’re a school district in Idaho these days you welcome any opportunity to procure additional funding.  Indications from recent state level budget discussions are that Idaho school districts should expect a substantial reduction in their share of the state’s dollars.  In this operating environment, you’d expect local Idaho school districts to welcome the federal government’s pending “Race to the Top” program, which offers school districts a chance to apply for grants under the 2009  American Recovery and Re-investment Act (ARRA).  However, at this morning’s school district committee meeting, Boundary County School District Trustees expressed reservations about the program.


“We don’t have enough information at this time, to fully evaluate the repercussions of accepting this grant money.”  says Melanie Staples of the Board of Trustees.


Although Boundary County School District has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the State Department of Education, they are not necessarily bound to pursue the funding.


“Word has it that we will be able to opt out of the funding further down the road”


These assurances are not enough for some school districts, namely Boise, Meridian and Nampa, none of whom are signed up.  According to some sources the funding is viewed as potentially too disruptive to strategic planning initiatives already underway.  Others have  reservations about the included proposal to tie teacher compensation to student performance.


“There’s potential for pitting people against each other with that proposal”, said Trustee Lisa Dirks.


Sulet Hiatt and Tim Bertling both commented on the issue of whether accepting Federal grant money under the terms of ARRA would result in loss of local control over curriculum.


The Federal government is scheduled to decide in April which states will receive funding in the first round of grants.