UNION COUNTY, N.C. — The race is on to receive a federal education grant.
While many school systems across the state are only in year three of the Race to the Top four-year grant, additional funds will soon be awarded to select districts. One of the systems hoping to get lucky is Union County Public Schools.
Union County Public Schools got a piece of the Race to the Top state grant in 2010; $1.7 million to be exact.
But when the U.S. Department of Education announced an opportunity for districts to compete for additional funds, Union County jumped on board.
"It will be a godsend if we do get it! It would help teachers tremendously and students," said Union County Public Schools Superintendent Mary Ellis.
The district-level grant applications are due October 30. Union County Public Schools Superintendent Mary Ellis said her team has spent 4,000 hours working on it.
The school system is requesting $25 million. Ellis said that kind of money could change everything.
"I'm very proud that we've written in the grant that we would provide master's degrees for a number of teachers. It's around 100 teachers, grades 5 through 12, and we're looking for our hard to fill areas like math and science," said Ellis.
Ellis said providing stipends for teachers to take on extra responsibilities is another item in the plan, if they are awarded the money. For Union County, it is all about raising the bar for students. With millions of extra dollars, Ellis said they could easily accelerate their long term plans.
But with hundreds of districts across the country competing for a handful of additional grants, Ellis said anything can happen. She believes Union County is already on the right track, so they are prepared for either outcome.
"We are doing the right thing, for the right reason. I expect for that to continue. I expect good things for our children, our teachers and our parents with a grant or without a grant," said Ellis.
The winners are expected to be announced by the end of the year. The Race to the Top dollars available nationwide total $400 million.