While the official word isn't expected until later today, it's pretty evident that the Wake County school system isn't winning a $10.3 million federal magnet school grant.
As noted in today's article, school board member John Tedesco confirmed through his congressional contacts that Wake isn't among the $100 million in grant recipients. It's what I'm hearing too.
What it means depends on your point of view.
Yevonne Brannon, chairwoman of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, is repeating the refrain that's been heard for months from critics of the board majority that eliminating the diversity policy jeopardized the grant.
“Their decisions have caused a nationally recognized school system to be called into question,” Brannon said. “I don’t think the federal government was going to hand over millions of dollars when our judgment is in question.”
Brannon acknowledged the $1.8 million grant that Wake received last week for the teacher merit pay program at Wilburn Elementary. But she says that program was instituted under the watch of the prior board.
Brannon pointed to how Wake has won $36 million in magnet grant money since 1985.
But Tedesco said it can’t be proven that there’s a connection between eliminating the diversity policy and not winning the grant. He pointed out that Wake didn’t win a $7.5 million grant in 2004 when it had the diversity policy.
“I don’t know how any intelligent person would make the leap and say that’s why we didn’t get the grant,” Tedesco said.
Tedesco said that if Wake’s change in assignment policy was a problem then the U.S. Education Department would have rejected the district’s request this year for a one-year extension to finish using $1.3 million in unspent magnet grant money.
Tedesco pointed to additional competition nationally this year for federal magnet money. He also speculated that federal officials didn’t give any magnet money to school districts in the state because North Carolina recently won the $400 million federal Race to the Top education grant.
It's official. Wake didn't win. Click here for the press release from the U.S. Department of Education. To make it equivalent, it's $100 million this year but potentially up to $300 million over three years. Wake wanted $4 million in the first year for a total of $10.3 million over three years.