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Local district will get piece of $40 million grant

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As part of educational district, Owen schools win Race to the Top program

By Molly Haines

Over a dozen Kentucky school districts, including Owen County, will receive $40 million over four years after winning the 2012 Race to the Top district competition.
The U.S. Department of Education announced last week that 16 applicants – representing 55 school districts across 11 states and D.C. won the competition.
Owen County Interim Superintendent Sonny Fentress said 16 schools within Kentucky’s Green River Regional Education Cooperative and six schools within the Ohio Valley Education Cooperative combined will receive a total of $40 million.
Fentress said the two cooperatives partnered together in the grant.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Education, grantees will receive awards that range from $10 million to $40 million over the course of four years, depending on the number of students served through the plan.
The winning  applicants were the top scorers among the 372 applications the department received in November.
According to the release, the applications were evaluated and scored by independent peer reviewers.
The Race to the Top district plans are tailored to meet the needs of local communities and feature a variety of strategies, including using technology to personalize learning for each student; giving students opportunities to learn beyond the traditional school day and environment; supporting students’ transitions throughout their education, including from high school to college and careers; expanding partnerships with community organizations to provide students with targeted social services like crisis intervention, individual counseling and life enrichment opportunities; and providing professional development and coursework options to deepen learning in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
Fentress said there would be some developing within the district on how to use the funds, with parent and community input.
“Nothing’s in concrete yet,” Fentress said. “I think there will be a lot of involvement from others on how to best use the money to prepare kids for college and careers. I hope there’s an emphasis on reading, because it’s so important for kids to learn to read at an early age.”
Fentress said Heather Alger, Owen County’s director of special education was instrumental in helping Owen County be a part of the competition.
“We need smart people to be able to attack future problems,” Fentress said. “Getting students college and career ready is a step in that direction. I’m very pleased that we have this opportunity to enhance for our students.”