Local teachers who are members of the Southwest Minnesota Rural RTT project met with board members Thursday evening after the regularly scheduled board meeting to discuss details of a $10 million grant the district plans to apply for.
The local group of teachers numbering four are part of a larger partnership with school districts in Canby, Lynd, Russel-Tyler-Ruthton and St. James. Together, the consortium plans to apply for a slice of close to $400 million in grants that the U.S. Education Department will distribute in support of local initiatives that help close achievement gaps and prepare students for college and a career.
The new Race to the Top competition encourages districts to create learning environments that are aligned with college and career-ready standards, accelerate student achievement and expand access to the most effective teachers.
The guidelines do not advocate a single approach but require applicants to design a personalized learning environment that uses data-based and digital tools to meet the needs of individual students.
In order to qualify, at least 40 percent of participating students must come from low-income families. The districts also must put into place teacher, principal and superintendent evaluation systems by the 2014-15 school year and be able to provide instructors with data on student growth.
The Education Department expects to give 15 to 25 districts four-year grants ranging from $5 million to $40 million, depending on their size.
Superintendent John Cselovszki said the mayor of Sleepy Eye has lent his support of this grant in a form of a letter of recommendation as have local Sleepy Eye businesses including Schwartz Farms, Inc., the Mark Thomas Company and Arneson Distributing.
In other news, the board approved:
• to contribute $200 for each SEPS varsity hockey player toward the cost of the hockey participation fee.
• Crystal Ibberson as the girls junior high basketball coach.
• Sleepy Eye danceline's participation in the MNSHL sponsored competitive program.
• to accept a $1,000 anonymous donation to first grade and a $1,000 anonymous donation to third grade.
• to accept a $50 donation by the Simplyread Book Club to the library.
• Extended Day personnel.
• the Truth and Taxation hearing date set for Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.
• a band and choir trip to Chicago for the second to last weekend in March.
The next regularly scheduled school board meeting will be on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m.