Published: Nov 23, 2010 7:50 PM EST
Updated: Nov 23, 2010 4:50 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla - Lee County Public Schools received notification from the Florida Department of Education that its full work plan has been approved and the distrtict will receive more than $9 million to implement activities over the next four years to support Florida’s Race To The Top (RTTT) program.

“The fact that Lee County received full program approval for all 13 components of our plan reflects the very high level of work being done in our District,” said Dr. Lawrence Tihen, Interim School Superintendent. “More importantly, this grant provides additional opportunities for the school system to implement numerous, high quality educational initiatives for our students and teachers.”

In August of 2010, the Florida Department of Education was awarded a historic $700 million grant in the federal Race to the Top Fund competition. Chief Human Resources Officer Dr. Greg Adkins, District staff and the Teachers Association of Lee County worked together in developing the District’s plan for implementation.

“I am excited about the prospect of receiving the RTTT grant,” said Dr. Adkins. “I’m looking forwarded to getting started on the next phase, which we believe will significantly improve the educational experiences for students in Lee County.”

Lee County’s plan will support Florida’s RTTT goals of increasing the graduation rate and college attainment rate, reducing the achievement gap and increasing student proficiency and advanced level performance in reading and mathematics. This will be accomplished by creating an infrastructure that will help grow and support highly effective teachers and leaders that will positively impact student achievement. The project will support students through expansion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM,) career and advance level courses and through improved instruction. The project will provide support for instruction through improved educator preparation, an improved evaluation system and through a focus on effective professional development.

Collier County Public Schools also had their Race to the Top (RTTT) grant proposal approved by the Florida Department of Education (DOE).

Race to the Top is an education reform project grounded in better preparing students for the changing 21st century economy. The district’s Scope of Work includes 13 projects centered on the State’s RTTT goals of increased student achievement, college and career readiness for every child, educational equality embedded in every classroom, and meaningful support for our educational leaders. Under RTTT, Florida will strive to double the percent of incoming high school freshmen who graduate high school and complete at least one year of college, to cut the current achievement gap between white and minority students in half by year 2015, and to out-perform the current highest performing states on standardized testing.

The district is receiving a $4 million, four-year grant. The district’s 547-page RTTT Scope of Work is aligned with the district’s Consolidated Planning process, the Three-Year Academic Plan, the School Improvement Plans, and the new District Strategic Plan which is an extension of The Education Foundation’s Connect Now initiative. During the current year (year one), the district focus is on researching and establishing an infrastructure from which to work for the next three years. The district’s negotiations team is working collaboratively with the teachers’ union team to develop an evaluation instrument to be used to evaluate teachers beginning in year two, the 2011-2012 school year. Another instrument is being developed for administrator evaluations.