Race to the Top is a $37 million dollar grant that would be used for preschool through third grade literacy programs in Fresno. The first step of course is to apply for it. But that's been easier said than done. The Fresno Unified School District needs the FTA’s signature on the application. But the teacher’s union has not signed it. It worries that the grant money would make its job a lot harder. Evaluations are a prerequisite for the funding. Negotiations between the two started at about 10 a.m., Thursday. Those hoping for an agreement waited outside the FTA doors for hours.
“I think we're cautiously optimistic. I have to say that if we don't have a decision already, i'm glad we're still in there talking. It's been a long day though. It's a little bit of a surprise that as much time has gone by, but we are happy that they are still in there visiting,” said Children’s Movement of Fresno member, Linda Gleason.
More than eight hours later, still no agreement. But Superintendent Michael Hanson came out of the meeting optimistic.
“I feel that it was a good productive conversation and we were able to address a number of issues and hopefully everyone in the room felt the same,” he said.
At that time, the FTA held an executive board meeting. School officials went back to the district office to work on changing a number of things on the application. Hanson wouldn't elaborate on what they were.
“There are a number of things we have to put into the grant that are assurances to the federal government. Some of those issues were points we needed to work through. But there's also specific things in the grant that we developed together,” said Hanson.
As of 11 p.m. Thursday, the Fresno Teachers Association remained behind closed doors as executives continued reviewing the documents and language of the application. Fresno Unified School District officials along with supporters, including Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, waited outside the FTA building. After the FTA finishes reviewing the documents, they will immediately meet with school district officials for a final discussion.
The district has until Friday afternoon to apply for the Race to the Top grant.