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RCPS aims for $25M Race to the Top direct grant
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Rockdale County Public Schools is taking another shot at $25 million of federal Race to the Top direct district grants and is asking for support from the community.

RCPS Superintendent Richard Autry told Rockdale school board members Thursday night that how close the district came last year in the process was an affirmation of what RCPS was doing in in the school choice options and personalized learning efforts.

"Last year we were very close to $30 million. We were the highest scoring application in Georgia. We missed by seven points, according to their rubric," said Autry. Out of 372 applications last year and 61 finalists, RCPS was 34th overall and had the highest score out of applicants from Georgia. This round of Race to the Top grant funding would be direct to the districts and not filtered through the state department of education.

"We were affirmed that where we want to go with personalized learning, choice options and specialty options, some of the things you've seen us do already on small scale, that concept had a lot of legs to it," Autry said.

A request for letters of support went out to members of the Superintendent's Advisory Council, made up of members and organizations in the community, as well as legislators and community leaders.

Autry said he was "hopeful that this can be an additional revenue stream to help us not only move forward with expanding what we're doing with options but also sustain some of the things we have through Dr. Brundage's office with student support programs, mental health, P&I. Many of the things that we know the STARS grant has funded in the past but is coming to its expiration."

The four-year $4.5 million Safe Schools Healthy Students federal grant was awarded in 2009, with an option for one extension year.

"This is the way we try to business here and try to be good stewards. We try to seek any type of revenue stream that we can that fits in line with what we want to move forward with in terms of our strategic plan."