Indiana Not A Finalist For Race To The Top Funding,

By Scott Sarvay
By Brien McElhatten

June 18, 2010 Updated Mar 4, 2010 at 10:52 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Indiana is not a finalist in the first round of Race to the Top funding, but not all is lost.

Of the 15 states named , along with the District of Columbia, Indiana did not’t make the list for phase one funding. Ohio did make the list though.

"We presented a strong reform plan, and we're disappointed Indiana was not selected today," said said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett in a written statement. "I look forward to feedback from the peer review team that reviewed our application."

In January, Indiana officials filed their application for a piece of the $4.2 billion pie. Funded by the stimulus, the money would be given to qualifying states to distribute to school districts. Indiana asked for $500 million.

Even before the state application was written, Doctor Wendy Robinson, Superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools, began shaping her district to be a prime candidate for those dollars. Her staff re-wrote job descriptions for administrators and teachers and then told them to re apply for their jobs. Some kept their positions, but dozens were moved to different schools, and some administrators were offered teaching positions instead.

Eleven schools were designated "LEAD" schools. The title identified buildings where new programs, in line with emerging state and federal requirements, would be implemented.

The programs would set higher standards for teachers and students, while tracking the growth of pupils.

Accepting stimulus money would have come with a price. The most controversial stipulation was that teacher salaries and performance evaluations would be tied to student achievement. Teachers and union representatives cried foul, but Robinson continued to push her plan insisting it was in the best interest of the students.

That sentiment is still echoed by the administration even though Indiana lost out on funding.

"It doesn't change much for us. We've been saying all along that as we make these changes and as we announced our 11 lead schools that we were going to move forward with the changes with or without the money, said FWCS Spokeswoman Krista Stockman."

State officials, who have developed their own reform plan, agree.

"Indiana's fast Forward reform plan is more than just our Race to the Top application, it's our reform agenda for the next three years," explained Bennett. "The scope and trajectory of reform will remain aggressive despite the results of Race to the Top."

The funding would have provided Indiana schools with some much needed money, but could not be used to patch budget shortfalls.

While Indiana lost in phase one, a second phase, which could get underway later this year holds promise.

Indiana officials may apply for the $2.2 billion dollar phase two, but they have not yet made up their minds. They plan on waiting for feedback on their first application, before any work could begin on another.

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