FORT VALLEY -- As Georgias Race to the Top funds dwindle, some local school systems are considering applying for an extension, which will allow them more time to use the rest of their funds.
Meanwhile, Peach County schools will apply for a separate, federal grant that could pump millions into the school system, officials said Thursday during a Board of Education meeting.
Statewide, 26 districts -- including Bibb and Peach counties -- received a total of $400 million through the federal grant for school improvement, which was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Those funds, which have been used to boost technology and hire faculty, among other uses, are scheduled to run out Sept. 30.
The grants were to help schools implement plans in four education reform areas: Recruiting, rewarding and retaining effective teachers; adopting standards and tests that help students succeed in a college and the workplace; creating data systems that measure student growth and success; and turning around low-achieving schools, according to the state Department of Education.
Bibb County, which received $13.3 million, is applying for an extension, which will allow the district to use any remaining funds through June 2015, Jo-ne Bourassa, Race to the Top coordinator for Bibb, wrote in an e-mail to The Telegraph.
Peach County, which received $1.3 million, is considering applying for an extension. At the beginning of the school year, about $350,000 was left, said Gail Swain, Peach district director of grants and administrative services.
However, the federal bucket for Race to the Top has not run dry, and districts can still compete for $120 million on a national level, which will be divided among a few districts across the country. Last year, both Bibb and Peach counties applied, but neither received the grant.
On Thursday, Swain announced Peach County will reapply for the federal grant in the fall. The purpose of the grant is to create a more personalized learning environment for schools. For Peach, that would mean more advanced technology, in addition to academic coaches to support individual students and other improvements, Swain said.
Generally, the smallest federal grant awarded through the program has been about $10 million, which would be monumental for a small district like Peach County, she said.
Its an outstanding grant, she said.
To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.