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Dover Post
  • Capital School Board discusses the possibility of salvaging some Race to the Top positions

  • The Capital Board of Education discussed possible options for continuing to fund seven positions originally funded through Race to the Top at their meeting last Wednesday. Ultimately the matter was tabled until the April board meeting so that board members could be provided with additional information.
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  • The Capital Board of Education discussed possible options for continuing to fund seven positions originally funded through Race to the Top at their meeting last Wednesday. Ultimately the matter was tabled until the April board meeting so that board members could be provided with additional information.
    Race to the Top was a set of federal grants given to school districts to promote career and college readiness in students; improve school districts that were struggling and to help districts hire and retain highly qualified teachers and administrators. Capital currently has 14 positions funded through that money. The funding is set to end at the end of this fiscal year. Race to the Top staff members are on temporary contracts, which would end along with the funding if the board of education chooses not to continue them, according to Dave Vaughn, director of human resources for the district.
    “They would receive a letter telling them that they were on a temporary contract and their services are no longer needed,” Vaughn said.
    The seven positions being discussed included math interventionists for Central and William Henry Middle Schools, a behavior specialist and a math lab teacher for Dover High School, a data coordinator and a parent engagement and mentoring coordinator, as well as a math interventionist which might be shared between all of the elementary schools, but is currently housed at South Dover Elementary. The vague language used in regards to the math interventionist at the elementary level lead in part to the matter being tabled.
    “The list says the position may be shared, but I don’t like convoluted messages,” said board member Kay Dietz-Sass. “It either is or is not shared, why would it be at South over the others? I would like to make sure all the other elementary schools and students, regardless of school, are being afforded the same thing.”
    Dietz-Sass also requested that the board be given an explanation of what each position being considered does. At Tuesday’s meeting the positions were simply listed with no further details.
    The seven positions being discussed were ones that were identified when Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas met with district principals who came to a consensus about which Race to the Top funded positions were most important. Student data was also taken into account, according to Thomas.  
    Sean Sokolowski, business manager for the district proposed a plan to fund the Race to the Top positions using academic excellence units.
    The number of academic excellence units a district gets is based on the number of enrolled students, minus pre-k students. For each 250 students enrolled the district gets one academic excellence unit. A portion of those units are then used to cover the 70 percent share of a teacher’s salary that the state pays, but 30 percent of a districts units can be cashed in with the state for $35,000 per unit. The district typically earns $300,000 when they cash in their units, Sokolowski said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Currently there are roughly 17 teachers whose salaries are paid though academic excellence units and the district cashed in an additional 7 this school year, which is where the finite number of seven continuing Race to the Top positions came from, according to Thomas.
    Board member Brian Lewis questioned the financial impact of using the academic excellence units to fund positions.
    “My major question is what is this going to cost the local tax payer in the district?” Lewis asked
    If the district uses those seven academic excellence units to fund the salaries of Race to the Top positions, rather than cashing them in, the academic excellence unit will cover 70 percent of the salary cost, but the district will be responsible for covering the other 30 percent. The impact analysis has been done and could be presented in April, Sokolowski said,
    Ultimately the decision to keep any of the seven Race to the Top positions falls on the Board of Education. The matter is set to be brought up again at the board’s next monthly meeting with the information the board requested included and clarifying language. The board’s next meeting will be held on April 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the district office.
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