Five Columbiana County school districts will be beneficiaries of Ohio's successful application for education stimulus money.
The state was one of the finalists selected in the second round of "Race to the Top" education grant funding. Ohio will receive $400 million.
Of that, Lisbon schools will receive $124,000; Leetonia schools will receive $100,000; Crestview, $100,000; Columbiana, $100,000; and Buckeye Online School for Success, $308,000.
The districts are among 538 local education agencies covering about 1 million Ohio schoolchildren across the state.
The money is to be used for innovative education programming.
The success of the grant is the result of cooperation among many groups in drafting the application. It wasn't just the work of the Ohio Department of Education but representatives of more than 70 organizations that made the application a success, according to the office of Gov. Ted Strickland.
The goals for Ohio's Race to the Top application are easy to understand: Improve graduation rates by a half percent a year; reduce graduation rate gaps by 50 percent between disadvantaged and majority students; reduce performance gaps by 50 percent between disadvantaged and majority students; reduce performance gaps between Ohio and the best performing states on reading and math proficiency on national assessments.
The plan has elements that allow for linking merit compensation for teachers to students' academic performance, which some teachers' unions opposed and thus not all districts statewide applied for the funding. The plan allows local districts to decide which reforms to implement and how to implement them.
KidsOhio, a group that led the grant application, said the state had more than 22,000 students fail to graduate in 2008. If the rate would improve by just a half percent, that's 600 students earning diplomas.
Multiplying that into minority communities to close competitive gaps by 50 percent means thousands more students would graduate.
It's all a focus that is necessary, vital and should lead to a more productive Ohio with future generations of adults less dependent on public assistance and public programs for sustenance.