RENO — After competing against 96 other school districts and education organizations for funding through the Teacher Incentive Fund grant program (TIF), the Washoe County School District placed near the top of the list and will be receiving more than $9 million during the next five years to implement new programs that promote excellence in teaching.
The U.S. Department of Education announced that the WCSD received the 10th highest score out of the 62 applicants that were awarded funding.
The purpose of the TIF grant is to strengthen the education profession by rewarding excellence, attracting teachers and principals to high-need and hard to staff areas, and providing all teachers and principals with the feedback and support they need to succeed.
The U.S. Department of Education reports that the applicants were judged on their comprehensive plans to develop, reward and support effective teachers and principals in high-need schools, based on evaluations that include multiple measures, including student growth. The WCSD’s application laid out a comprehensive plan to provide support and growth opportunities for teachers and principals.
WCSD Board of Trustee member Ken Grein said the TIF grant will be fundamental in creating a district that ensures its employees are providing the best quality education possible.
“This grant will allow the District to build a system that helps teachers and principals improve what they do in their classrooms every day," Grein said. "Supporting our teachers and principals is essential to improving student achievement for all of our children.”
Kristen McNeill, the district’s chief officer of state and federal programs and K-16 initiatives, said the district’s award is targeted for continued school improvement efforts at Sun Valley Elementary School and Vaughn Middle School and in the seven School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools.
The SIG schools are ones that have been identified as in need of improving student performance. The funding will be used to fully develop the principal and teacher performance growth systems, which are plans based on the idea to continuously improve of the quality of teaching. The grant also will provide the funding for the staff needed to analyze and manage the program.
“This funding will go a long way to help build the professional capacity of our teachers and principals," McNeill said. "The plan we outlined in our application fits perfectly with the District’s strategic goal to recruit and support highly effective personnel.”
The funding also will be used to create a career ladder program, which provides additional opportunities for teachers to grow professionally by becoming mentor and master teachers in the District. The grant also provides funding for incentives for administrators, teachers, and classified staff at each of the nine schools.
WCSD Board of Trustee member Nancy Hollinger spoke about the impact this funding will have on the teachers and principals in the District.
“I am extremely proud of the work that went into this grant application," Hollinger said. "As a former teacher, I know about the value of continuously working to become a better educator for our children. This funding will give our teachers and principals the resources the District needs to allow them to grow professionally.”
The U.S. Department of Education awarded the first two years of funding, about $4.3 million, on Sept. 23. Congress will need to reauthorize the funding for the additional three years.