By Connie Llanos Staff Writer | LA Newspaper Group/Daily News
07/30/2009 12:39:52 PM PDT -- Cash-strapped Los Angeles Unified wants to compete on its own, rather than as part of a statewide effort, to secure federal stimulus money for education, officials said today.
Superintendent Ramon Cortines sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, formally applying for money from the $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" fund, a competitive federal grant designated for education reform.
"I am writing to ask you to consider an application for Race to the Top funds directly from the Los Angeles Unified School District rather than through the state of California," Cortines wrote.
"If you compare LAUSD's enrollment of over 688,000 students to other states, we would rank 25th in the country in size."
State education officials did not immediately return phone calls for comment.
LAUSD's request comes after California was publicly reprimanded by Duncan for failing to institute education reform and for passing a law that prohibits the state from using test scores to evaluate teachers.
Despite laying off teaching and cutting programs to close a multimillion budget gap, officials worry they'll have to make other sacrifices under the state budget signed earlier this week by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.