The Manatee School District lost out on its bid to receive Race to the Top funds, confirmed Director of Adult Career & Technical Education Doug Wagner after the U.S. Department of Education announced the winners of federal funding totaling $400 million Tuesday.
The competition challenged schools to come up with ideas to prepare students for careers and college.
Manatee ranked 22 out of almost 900 school districts that applied. The federal department named the top 16 applicants winners Tuesday; the only Florida district to receive funds on the list was Miami-Dade, which will receive $30 million.
Manatee County Schools was one of 61 finalists announced in November.
Wagner pointed out a discrepancy in the judges' scoring.
Two out of three judges gave Manatee County nearly perfect scores, while a third judge gave the district significantly lower scores, even in areas that his counterparts had ranked highly.
If the district would have been named a winner, the district would have received a $29 million grant over four years to implement STEM labs, also known as a Science, Math, Technology and Engineering labs, in every Manatee County elementary school and charter school.
“Obviously we are disappointed because we felt our application was so strong,” Wagner said. “But we won’t give up finding funding.”