Costly Grants

IT IS not often that schools turn their backs on grant funding. Surprisingly, however, it is becoming a common occurrence in Ohio.

That is because some schools in the Buckeye State have deemed it that federal Race to the Top education grants are more costly than they are worth.

A state report indicates that some 80 school districts and charter schools across the state have backed out of the grant program after winning money. Such a high number speaks volumes of the exorbitant costs involved with the program, as free money is accepted with few questions asked.

Schools have opted to turn their backs to the grants for various reasons. Some schools soon withdrew after deciding requirements were too costly, while others who have been receiving money are starting to pull out, claiming that new teacher evaluations tied to the grant money add to the costs.

Schools say they often have to remove teachers from classrooms to train them to meet grant mandates, and administrators get tied up spending hours on progress reports.

The Race to the Top education grants have a worthwhile intent. That being raising graduation rates and student test scores with funds to help revamp student testing and teacher evaluations.

Those worthwhile goals, but not when schools accepting the grants end up losing money. Many, possibly a majority, of Ohio school districts are in financial dire straits.

It makes no financial sense to take on an added expense, no matter how well-intentioned, when your district is leaking red ink.

When the federal mandates outweigh the feasibility of the program, schools are prudent in opting to reject the money.

The Race to the Top Program looks good in academic theory but draws failing grades when it comes to economic feasibility.