Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Q&A with Sharon Chapman; How School District Will Use Race to the Top Funds

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Q&A with Sharon Chapman; How School District Will Use Race to the Top Funds

Article excerpt

The Clay County school district was one of the first in Florida to receive funds under the federal Race to the Top program. In this week's Q&A, Sharon Chapman, the district's outgoing assistant superintendent of instruction, discusses the program, misconceptions that surround it and how Race to the Top funds can be used.

What is Race to the Top?

Race to the Top is a competitive federal program that gave school districts the opportunity to apply to receive additional federal funds. In the application, the school district had to submit a plan as to how they would address four key areas: standards and assessment, data systems to support instruction, great teachers and leaders and turning around the lowest-achieving schools. But the last category did not apply to Clay County because we have no schools that have been identified as low achieving.

How much money did Clay County receive?

Approximately $1.8 million for use over the next four years. This is approximately $454,000 each year.

How will the money be spent?

The district had to agree to implement some key components of each of the three key areas [that applied to Clay County]. In the area of standards and assessment, the district must provide all instructional personnel training to help them teach in accordance with Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. These are the standards that tell us what a student must know and be able to do at each grade level. Money will also be used to provide training for teachers and administrators on the use of assessment data to improve student learning. Districts also had to agree to increase the number of courses offered for secondary students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and increase the number of career and technical programs over the next four years.

Clay County will spend the majority of its money on a new student information system. The state is very specific about what a student system must provide for parents, students, teachers and administrators. Our current student information system is very old and outdated and will not allow us to meet state and federal requirements. …

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