Angelina superintendents fine with turning down federal money

By Morgan Thomas - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Governor Rick Perry has refused to allow Texas to apply for the Obama Administration's race to the top funds. Texas is eligible for about $700 million for public education and local schools won't be seeing a penny.

"The race to the top is federal government opportunity to provide cash incentives in a competition grant form," Lufkin ISD Superintendent Roy Knight said.

Why refuse it? Too many strings for Texas.

"It comes with great strings attached," Knight said. "Requires a lot of administering and oftentimes creates more financial burden."

"Massive amounts of monitoring and evaluations," Hudson ISD Superintendent Mary Ann Whiteker said.

However, public schools have a constant need for more money.

"In terms of finances, I think every district in the state of Texas needs the money," Whiteker said.

If the federal grants aren't the answer, what is?

"It is at our local tax payers peril unless we then take initiative and provide state money for our local schools," Knight said.

If supplemental funds were made available via state or national sources the districts say they definitely have a place for them.

The district's priorities couldn't be more different.

"We would use it to enhance our pre-med and pre-engineering programs," Knight said.

"The first thing I would want to do is increase my teacher's salaries," Whiteker said.

Those differences are at the heart of the issue for local districts.

"What the greatest challenge to the public school finance system is the great diversity of our schools, our population," Whiteker said.

That's why they say federal funds just won't work here in Texas.

"It's not local at all," Knight said. "It's very generic in nature."

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