Federal grants put funding into hands of some school districts



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Posted on December 26, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 26 at 4:41 PM

AUSTIN -- The fight to fund education is moving out of state hands and into the hands of individual districts, at least when it comes to some federal grants.

Now a Central Texas school is taking advantage of the program.

When Texas lawmakers slashed education funding in the last session, school districts took a hit. Many of them were forced to close programs, lay off employees or shut down campuses.

With state funding running low, some Texas districts looked to a federal program called Race to the Top for help. In its first year to accept applications from individual school districts, educators took advantage.

"They need something to happen. Austin needs something to happen to keep us competitive," Rae Nwosu with Education Austin said.

About 117 applications came into the Race to the Top program from Texas districts alone, including Austin. But the competition was tough. About 372 applications came in nationwide, but only 16 won grants.

Austin ISD didn't make the cut, but the Harmony Science Academy of Austin did. Now it will share nearly $30 million with other harmony academies in Texas.

Winners will use the funds to develop education plans which use technology to personalize learning for students and provide professional development course options.

Meanwhile Austin and other districts that applied will continue looking to the new legislative session and another chance for funding - this time at the hands of lawmakers.

To see the other winners of the Race to the Top program click here.