The Pella School Board tentatively approved to sign a memorandum of understanding for “Race to the Top” at their Monday meeting. Pella Schools Superintendent Mark Wittmer tells KNIA/KRLS News that the program would allow Iowa schools, if chosen, to compete for federal funding to assist with school improvements.
“The information that we have at this point is that about fifteen states will, in all likelihood, eventually be awarded some significant money,” said Wittmer. “For the state of Iowa, it will amount to at least 160 million dollars for us to focus on school improvement.”
Wittmer says the Board elected to tentatively approve the memorandum because of uncertainties about specific requirements for those who enlist in the program.
“It’s my understanding, however, that it sounds like these are things we’re going to have to do anyway. So it’s a matter of if you want some additional dollars to help fund those programs, and to help fund the additional staff development that it’s going to take, then you’ve got to be involved in the program; basically even if you’re not in agreement with everything, or even if you understand everything,” said Wittmer. “So, in our minds there’re still some things that need to be clarified.”
Wittmer adds that there has not been a lot of time to think about and research the “Race to the Top” program. The district was informed of the opportunity shortly after Christmas, and must make a decision before the end of the week. With tentative approval, the Pella School Board is waiting to receive additional input from the Iowa Association of School Boards and will likely make its final decision on the opportunity by the end of the day Thursday.