A small South Valley school district has a cash at winning some big money. The Lindsay Unified School District is a finalist in the federal Race to the Top grant program.
Lindsay beat out hundreds of other school districts across the country and is one of only four finalists in the state.
A unique learning system has put the Lindsay Unified School District in the running toward a big chunk of change.
Director of curriculum, Lana Brown says, "In Lindsay we do understand that kids learn at different rates and different times, and we wanted the opportunity to let our learners excel."
Regardless of their age or grade, students here progress at their own pace, through what's called performance-based learning. This personalized program pushed the district closer to the finish line in the Race to the Top. It's now one of 61 finalists competing for millions of dollars in federal grant money.
Brown says, "The grant is designed to encourage schools to do things in a new innovative way to prepare learners for the 21st century for the future times and for schools to do things in a different way to meet learners' needs. We're doing just that."
The system is proving to be a success among students like Isaac Castro and Lewis Cha, who are already wise beyond their years.
Isaac Castro says, "I'm in sixth grade and I'm in seventh grade language arts and seventh grade math."
"I'm in seventh grade. I'm in algebra which is ninth grade math here at Lindsay," says Lewis Cha.
If the district makes the final cut, it could receive $10 million spread out over four years, to fine tune the performance- based system.
"We're very excited. We are hoping to win the grant," says Brown.
The district hopes to continue putting kids on a fast track toward their future.
Cha says, "It's a great opportunity for me. I feel that it's a very special program that all schools should have."
The race is not over yet. Again, the district is competing against 60 others. Only about 15 to 25 will receive funding. The winners should be announced December 31, 2012.
Fresno, Clovis, Sanger and Central unified school districts each applied for the grant funding as well, but those applications were turned down.