A group of seven school districts in King County has won a $40 million federal grant as part of the Race to the Top competition.
The districts, which had written a joint application for the competition, were among 16 winners announced Tuesday. The seven are Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Seattle and Tukwila.
All are part of the Road Map Project, an effort to raise student achievement and graduation rates in South Seattle and South King County.
The U.S. Department of Education received 372 applications in this round of the Race to the Top competition, the first time the program has been open to school districts, rather than states as a whole. The department whittled that list to 61 finalists before selecting the 16 winners.
Two other Washington applicants were also among the finalists, but failed to win grants: Vancouver Public Schools, which was part of a national consortium of schools, and a group of districts in north central Washington.
The members of the King County consortium have said they’d use the $40 million on a number of new efforts, such as providing summer reading plans for students in low-income neighborhoods, working to double the number of students who take algebra by the end of eighth grade, and providing computer-based math-tutoring program that many students can use at home or at school.
The consortium received the maximum award of $40 million. The other winners received anywhere from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the number of students served. The seven districts say their plan covers 261 schools and 150,000 students, including 36,000 high-need children.
In a prepared release, U.S. Senator Patty Murray congratulated the districts, saying the grant is a major victory that will have long-lasting impact on their communities and the state.
John Welch, Superintendent of the Puget Sound Educational Service District, said that the grant is an “amazing accomplishment that proves that great things can happen when we work together.” The service district will be the lead agency for the grant.