Some Ohio schools have decided that federal Race to the Top education grants aren’t worth it.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that some 80 school districts and charter schools across the state have backed out of the grant program after winning money. Some withdrew quickly after deciding requirements were too costly, while others that have been receiving money are starting to pull out. Schools say new teacher evaluations tied to the grant money add to the costs.
Schools say they often have to remove teachers from classrooms to train them to meet grant mandates, and administrators get tied up spending hours on progress reports.
“We were spending a disproportionate amount of time following all the requirements,” said Mike Johnson, Bexley schools superintendent in central Ohio. His school turned down the last half of a $100,000 grant. “It was costing us far more than that to implement all the mandates.”
The grants are aimed at raising graduation rates and student test scores with funds to help revamp student testing and teacher evaluations.
Some districts also are concerned about a grant requirement to use new teacher evaluations by this fall, a year before statewide use.
Schools in the Columbus suburb of Worthington might decide not to accept the last quarter of a $520,000 grant because putting the new evaluations in effect could be a violation of their contract with the teachers union.
Ohio Education Department spokesman John Charlton said some districts have called to ask about withdrawing because of the evaluations requirement, but decided not to because it would only delay the change by one year.
Johnson said the teacher- evaluation requirement made cutting the grant plan short an easy call, because the district already was losing money on costs.
“I thought we would be able to wait until the end of our contract,” he said.