Miami Herald: State gives Broward one more chance to join Race to the Top — then takes it back

Jan 20, 2010

The Miami Herald published this article on January 19, 2010.


The Florida Department of Education gave the Broward school district a chance to reconsider its decision not to sign on to the state’s application for millions in federal grant money — and then took it back, Broward Superintendent Jim Notter said Tuesday.

In a confusing and unexpected discussion, Notter told School Board members at an informal workshop meeting that state Education Commissioner Eric Smith and other education department officials called him over the weekend to urge Broward to sign on to Florida’s application to Race to the Top, a national, $4.35 billion competitive initiative for education reform.

Last week, the board voted 5-4 not to participate in the race. Broward could have been eligible for some $34 million over four years if Florida is awarded money from the grant, but board members had too many questions on what requirements the state would impose on the district — including a controversial plan to evaluate teachers based on their students’ results on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Florida had set a deadline of last Tuesday for districts to join the state’s application. Fifty-nine of Florida’s 67 county school districts did so.

But then the Seminole district reversed its decision and signed on, after the state’s Jan. 12 deadline had elapsed.

Since states don’t have to turn in their paperwork until Tuesday, the Florida Department of Education offered Broward an eleventh-hour chance to change its mind.

Yet as the board was getting ready to take up the issue, Notter received a call from the department telling him Broward would not be able to join the state’s application after all, because Florida officials would not have time to crunch funding numbers in time to send in their paperwork by the end of the day.