Oklahoma has been shut out for the fourth year in a row in the big-money Race to the Top grant program.
The U.S. Education Department announced Monday that 61 finalists were named from 372 applications nationwide. Six applications came from Oklahoma; none were finalists.
About 20 winners will be selected by the end of the year to share $400 million.
In past years, states applied for grants. This year, individual school districts or conglomerations of districts could apply.
State education officials said the reason Oklahoma schools weren’t selected is clear.
“It isn’t unusual for Oklahoma not to receive Race to the Top money,” said Tricia Pemberton, a spokeswoman for the state Education Department.
“With the current administration, we can’t really expect any additional help from Washington.”
Last year, Gov. Mary Fallin also blamed the Obama administration for not selecting Oklahoma for funding. The state placed 30th out of 37 state applications for early learning funding.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the finalists “are setting the curve for the rest of the country with innovative plans to drive education reform in the classroom.”
“This competition was designed to support local efforts to close the achievement gap and transform the learning environment in a diverse set of districts, but no matter who wins, children across the country will benefit from the clear vision and track records of success demonstrated by these finalists,” Duncan said in a news release.
School districts selected as finalists were picked from “a range of districts, both rural and non-rural,” and from states that earlier received federal Race to the Top funds and those that did not, the release states.
The news was disappointing for Oklahoma City Public Schools, said Jackie Mania, innovative programs coordinator for the district and coordinator of the Race to the Top grant application.
But applying for the ultracompetitive grant was positive, she said. The rigorous application process helped identify needs, ideas and plans for the state’s largest school district.
“We have, through great collaboration, great ideas in place to take the school district to the next level and to seek out additional funding sources to make those a reality,” she said. “We’re not going to give up.”
These were the other five applications submitted from Oklahoma:
•Lawton Public Schools.
•Western Heights Public Schools.
•Purcell Public Schools with partner Noble Public Schools.
•Fort Gibson Public Schools with partners Cherokee Immersion School and Braggs, Hilldale, Okay, Oktaha and Sequoyah Wainwright school districts.
•Mountain View-Gotebo Public School with partners Arapaho-Butler, Beggs, Belfonte, Brushy, Cameron, Canute, Copan, Cyril, Dover, Eagletown, Fort Cobb-Broxton, Freedom, Gans, Greenville, Heavener, Holly Creek, Hominy, Hydro-Eakly, Locust Grove, Lone Wolf, Lookeba, Madill, Mangum, Marble City, Merritt, Morris, Newkirk, Panama, Pawhuska, Pioneer, Pocola, Porter, Quinton, Roff, Salina, Sentinel, Snyder, Stilwell, Sulphur, Thackerville, Watonga, Watts and Waukomis.