About Half of N.J. School Districts Implement Christie Reforms for Chunk of Federal Grant

February 24, 2012

About half of the state’s school districts have agreed to implement some of the Christie Administration’s education reforms in exchange for a slice of a $38 million federal grant.

In total, 344 of about 700 districts and charter schools have signed up to participate. The largest districts will receive up to $2 million from the grant, known as Race to the Top, while some smaller districts will get tens of thousands of dollars.

All districts receiving funds will have the same charge — to develop model curriculum and assessments, to develop an online tool so that teachers statewide can access the curriculum, to implement the state’s new teacher evaluation system and to help strengthen the state’s charter school authorizing practices.

"We are glad to see that so many districts and charter schools have signed up to participate in the state’s reform agenda," said acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf. "These funds can be used for a number of purposes that will support student learning."

Newark will receive $2 million, TEAM Academy Charter School in Newark will receive $111,000, and Union Township will receive $66,000. Meanwhile, tiny Milford Borough in Hunterdon County will get a meager $499.

To qualify for these funds, districts must receive some federal Title I money, a funding source used to educate poor students. Nearly 30 additional districts that do not qualify also indicated they plan to adopt the Christie Administration’s reforms voluntarily.

New Jersey was one of seven states to receive funding in the latest round of Race to the Top, a federal competition pitting state against state in a fight for hundreds of millions in one-time funding.