Manatee school district finalist for $28M grant

HERALD STAFF REPORTNovember 23, 2013 

MANATEE -- The School District of Manatee County is among 31 districts nationwide to be selected as finalists for a $28.7 million grant in the Race to the Top District competition.

Manatee is the only district in Florida to be named a finalist by the U.S. Department of Education, school officials said Friday. More than 200 applications were submitted.

The Race to the Top competition provides close to $120 million in grants to support locally developed plans in school districts across the country to personalize and improve student learning.

The $28.7 million grant, named STEM FIRST (Fully Integrated Reading Science Technology) would serve as "the foundation for a district-wide effort to assist schools in redirecting learning strategies to support inquiry-based curriculum, collaboration, and exploration to create 'out of the box' solutions," according to a news release. The grant targets students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and fosters enthusiasm and confidence for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It also provides extensive classroom resources for elementary teachers.

"This is an extremely exciting opportunity for our school district and I want to thank everyone who worked on this effort to benefit our students," said Superintendent Rick Mills in a statement. "This grant would go a long way in helping to prepare the children of this community for the technology-laden challenges of the future."

Five to 10 winning districts are expected to be announced by the end of the year.

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