Hawaii schools to get $75 million of federal 'Race to the Top'... - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii schools to get $75 million of federal 'Race to the Top' funds

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Acting Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi Acting Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi
Garrett Toguchi Garrett Toguchi
Linda Smith Linda Smith
UH president M.R.C. Greenwood UH president M.R.C. Greenwood

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state's public education system is about to benefit from $75 million in Race to the Top money.

"I don't think it should be a surprise. I think this is something that should have been expected. Had we not gotten it I think it would have been a disappointment," state Board of Education chairman Garrett Toguchi said.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the award Tuesday.

Hawaii is one of nine states and the District of Columbia to win a share of $3.4 billion in grant money.

The funds will be used to assist poor-performing schools, improve teacher effectiveness, and prepare high school seniors for college.

"This money is meant to start reforms, to leverage reforms, but not to be an ongoing source for operating expenses," said interim schools superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

Race to the Top is part of President Obama's education plan.

Hawaii failed to get money in the first go-round but qualified in the second. What may have helped is the state's emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math.

"There was a special priority given to those states that emphasized STEM education," said Linda Smith, senior policy advisor to Governor Linda Lingle.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the state now has a "real chance to take student achievement to a different level."

"What it's going to mean is that the children here in the state of Hawaii are going to have opportunities for the future that they have not had before." UH president M.R.C. Greenwood said.

The state will next negotiate with the U.S. Department of Education in September to determine when the money will come in over the next four fears.

"I know we have a huge job ahead of us. We'll take a little moment to take a deep breath, celebrate, and then we've got to get back to work," Matayoshi said.

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